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What’s in the Exchange Name?

A few ideas for a new name — ranging from the expected, traditional options to the less expected, non-traditional  — were floated at yesterday’s Health Benefit Exchange board meeting.

The board’s executive director, Peter Lee, also announced yesterday that the federal government just approved the exchange’s Level 1.2 grant request for $196 million. The exchange staff has already started working on the next grant request, a Level 1.3 establishment grant, which will be submitted to federal officials in November, Lee said.

The board had a full slate of issues to handle at yesterday’s meeting — from working out the details for how agents would be paid in SHOP exchanges to decisions about premium aggregation.  But the buzz in the room circulated around what name the exchange will have in 2014.

“When you’re looking at branding the exchange, it’s not just the name itself,” said Chris Kelly, senior advisor for marketing and outreach at the exchange. “There also will be a tagline and a logo that goes with it, whenever you see it. So you have to look at it as part of a big system. When the name sits alone, it can sound funny.”

With that caveat, Kelly unveiled a short list of name finalists, in two categories:

  • Traditional names — CaliHealth, CalAccess, Wellquest, Covered California and PACcess.
  • Interesting names — Ursa, Healthifornia (A Better State of Healthcare), Eureka (Discover affordable healthcare), Avocado (A uniquely California approach to affordable healthcare), Beneficia, Cal-Vida and Condor.

“We had a long naming process,” Kelly said, that included ideas from stakeholders, marketing agencies and many others. “And a lot of them, actually, were very similar.”

The list will be winnowed down to three or four names this week, Kelly said. That list will be submitted to the board for a vote at the next meeting, on Sept. 18.

“Well, Condor did not make the final cut, frankly,” Kelly said. “I mean, it is a vulture.”

Board member Robert Ross piped up: “And in danger of extinction,” he said.

“As is the name,” Kelly said.

Board chair Diana Dooley, who was elected to a second annual term at yesterday’s meeting, wondered about one name that wasn’t on the list.

“I would ask you to put Health Hub back on the list,” Dooley said. “I kind of liked that one.”

“I am sort of partial to Avocado,” board member Kim Belshé said.

Dooley had one last comment about one of the choices: “CaliHealth?” she said with a raised eyebrow. “CaliHealth, that sounds really young. … All the kids on the East Coast know us as Cali, so yes, I don’t know about CaliHealth.”

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