California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State To Provide Cost Estimates for Health Benefit Exchange Plans

On Wednesday, California officials plan to launch a new website that offers cost information about health plans that will be available through the state health insurance exchange, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 2/13).

Background

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.

Recently, exchange officials told Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the Legislature that health plans offered through Covered California will be classified by "metal ratings" -- including platinum, gold, silver and bronze -- based on the coverage they offer.

According to officials:

  • 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 (California Healthline, 1/22).

New Website Details

On Wednesday, the state plans to launch its CoveredCA.com website, which will include information on copayments and deductibles for plans offered through the exchange.

The site also will provide estimates of monthly premiums.

Peter Lee -- executive director of Covered California -- said, "For the first time, all Californians will be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison of their health plan choices in 2014."

Response to Website Launch

Consumer advocates are praising the release of more detailed cost data for the exchange plans.

However, some health care experts say that policyholders still will encounter a lot of insurance jargon on the site and that the ultimate cost of coverage will not be known until the state negotiates rates with insurers later this year (Los Angeles Times, 2/13). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.