At a California Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting last week, officials outlined an agenda to prepare the exchange to launch on Jan. 1, 2014, the Sacramento Bee reports (Craft, Sacramento Bee, 1/18).
The Affordable Care Act requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014. California's exchange -- named Covered California -- primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
Supporters hope that the exchange will function similar to websites like Amazon and Expedia so that users will be able to choose between various health plans through an easily navigable online store.
The exchange is expected to open for registration in October.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration granted conditional approval to California's plan to build and operate a statewide health insurance exchange (California Healthline, 1/10).
Last week, federal officials awarded $674 million to the exchange, which will help fund the program through the end of 2014 (Gorn, "Capitol Desk," California Healthline, 1/18).
Details of Agenda
On Thursday, officials said that the state expects to develop seven geographical exchanges to serve markets in:
- The Central Coast;
- The Greater San Francisco Bay Area;
- Los Angeles;
- Northern California;
- San Joaquin Valley; and
- Southern California.
Officials also established an action plan for recruiting translators fluent in 13 languages spoken in California to help with outreach efforts.
In addition, officials said they would use the new federal grant funding to develop a Web portal for the exchange.
Plans Will Use 'Metal Ratings'
Recently, exchange officials told Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the Legislature that health plans offered through Covered California will be classified by "metal ratings."
According to officials, "Every insurance policy offered inside and outside the Covered California marketplace will be given a 'metal rating' -- platinum, gold, silver or bronze -- based on 'actuarial value' calculations."
The Bee reports that:
- Platinum plans will offer 90% coverage;
- Gold plans will offer 80% coverage;
- Silver plans will offer 70% coverage; and
- Bronze plans will offer 60% coverage.
Plan members will have to pay out of pocket for the percentage not covered by the plan (Sacramento Bee