This week, theCalifornia legislature passed two bills to set up a health-insurancemarketplace. This move comes after the health care reform bill, which waspassed in March, directed states to set up their own health care exchanges, orelse their residents will receive access to a federal exchange. GovernorSchwarzenegger is expected to sign the bills.
Californiais the first state to begin implementation of a health-care exchange. Massachusetts and Utahalready had exchanges in place when the bill was passed. California’s exchange will most likely bethe largest one established by one state. As many as 8.3 million individualsmay be eligible to purchase insurance plans through the exchange. Under federallaw, businesses with up to 100 employees can buy coverage through the exchange.The limit may be raised by states in 2017.
The exchange will most likely offer insurance through awebsite that will provide detailed information about plans. The plans will bestandardized. Live helpers will be available to explain the plans to consumers.The plans aren’t required to be operating until January 2014. Under the plan, California will sellinsurance in five categories, which will vary widely in coverage and price.
This legislation comes on the heels of an announcement byCalifornia’s Department of Insurance that it will allow premium increases byAnthem Blue Cross (14% increase) and Blue Shield of California (9% increase).