The California Health Benefit Exchange Board has received a considerable amount of interest from health insurance issuers who may submit bids to sell plans through the Exchange. At the board meeting today, the Exchange staff reported that 33 issuers have indicated interest in submitting bids, with 5 issuers interested in selling statewide plans. Moreover, at least 6 issuers were interested in offering plans in each region of the state, and this response is a welcome sign that consumers in rural areas will have some choice among issuers. Exchange staff also noted that issuers may offer multiple plans in the different regions.
The Exchange has officially selected “Covered California” as its name. It is in the process of developing a logo, and work will continue to develop a tagline to complement the new name. A working version of the logo is below.
With regard to plans and benefits offered through the Exchange, the Board voted to offer stand-alone supplemental dental and vision plans in the both the individual and SHOP Exchanges. The Board felt that this decision would allow the Exchange to be a more comprehensive source of health insurance coverage for consumers.
The Board also voted on how plan offerings would be structured in the SHOP Exchange. The Board decided to allow employers to select the tier of coverage that they would like to offer and to allow employees to select a particular issuer and plan. The Board chose this option because it is likely to be the most affordable and least prone to adverse selection. Moreover, it will be a relatively rare and attractive offering in the small group market because of the level of employee choice it provides. Other potential options that the Board declined to select were a paired offering (with at least two issuers and two contiguous tiers of coverage), or to allow the employers to select the issuers and plans and employees to choose the tier.
In an update about the progress of CalHEERS development, Exchange staff reported that they were devoting considerable effort to building an enrollment and eligibility interface with the counties’ welfare systems, which will handle Medi-Cal enrollment. The staff also reported that work is continuing to develop the centralized multi-site service center, with one site in Sacramento, a second somewhere else in the state, and a third housed in a county site that will be determined in the upcoming weeks. With marketing and outreach, the Exchange staff have set a goal of enrolling 2.6 million Californians in Exchange or Medi-Cal coverage by 2015, 3.2 million by 2016, and 3.7 million in 2017.
The Exchange reported that it will submit an application for a Level 2 establishment grant from the federal government. To receive this grant, the Exchange must demonstrate legal authority to operate an Exchange, a governance structure, a complete budget through 2014, and a financial sustainability plan. Level 2 grant applications are due November 16. In the upcoming November meeting, the Board will potentially consider the definition of the QHP standard benefit design, the tribal consultation policy, consumer assistance/ombudsman options, federal establishment support, and the Exchange blueprint application to be a state-based Exchange.