California Health Insurance Exchange Gains Approval

number 13The Department of Health and Human Services has approved of the state of California’s health insurance exchange. California will have a state-based exchange. This brings the grand total of approved exchanges to 13!

The Affordable Care Act requires every state (and the District of Columbia) to have a functioning health insurance exchange. The exchanges are expected to be ready by no later than January 1, 2014. Individuals and small businesses can use the exchanges in order to find affordable health insurance coverage.

There were three options that each state could choose from for their health insurance exchange. One option was to create a state-based exchange. Another option was to create an exchange that was a partnership between the federal government and the government of an individual state. The third option was to have the federal government create and run the health insurance exchange for an individual state.

Little by little, the Department of Health and Human Services has been reviewing the plans each state has submitted about their health insurance exchanges. So far, it has approved the exchanges of 12 states. The approval of California’s exchange adds one more.

California was the first state to start working on their health insurance exchange after the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010. For a while, the exchange was called “The California Health Benefit Exchange Board”, but it is now being called “Covered California”.

The Covered California exchange will provide subsidized coverage for hundreds of thousands of individuals who live in California and who do not currently have health insurance. The state received $237 million in federal grants to build its exchange. Some of that money will cover the cost of a new IT system that will enroll subscribers.

I have to admit, I am very excited to learn that California’s health insurance exchange has been approved. I live in California, and am very interested in seeing what the exchange can offer me and my husband. I currently have health insurance, but the insurer has threatened to raise the cost of the premium in April of this year. My husband had Medicaid Part A, but is otherwise uninsured.

Here’s a running total of states that have had their exchanges approved. Most of them are state-based exchanges (unless otherwise noted). They are:

* Colorado
* Connecticut
* Maryland
* Massachusetts
* Oregon
* Washington
* Kentucky
* New York
* District of Columbia
* Minnesota
* Rhode Island
* Delaware – will have a federal-state partnership exchange
* California

Image by Clare Bell on Flickr