California has passed legislation to create a health-care exchange – all it needs now is the governor’s signature, which is expected to come soon. If passed, the bills will create the first health-insurance marketplace since the healthcare overhaul was passed by Washington (Massachusetts and Utah had existing marketplaces). As mandated by the federal law, the marketplace is expected to be a website complete with information about plans, a toll-free number, and a program of live helpers to assist consumers with purchasing plans and questions. Exchanges aren’t required to be up and running until January of 2014, so this could make California’s an influential model for other states’ marketplaces. So how easy will this marketplace actually be, and what extras will the state add onto the federal requirements?
Gerald Kominski, Professor of Health Services and Associate Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research