California’s state health insurance exchange will launch a preliminary website on February 13th to introduce consumers and businesses to Covered California services. While the www.CoveredCa.com website is heavy on text and information, it looks to be a good preview of the overall health insurance exchange.
Barebones, but growing
Even though California residents can’t even purchase health insurance through the new state exchange until the fall of 2013, launching the website early will help start the conversation and generate some buzz. The actual guts of the Covered California health insurance exchange website are missing because both the insurance companies and California are working to develop all the policies to be offered.
Cost estimator is nice tool
The cost estimator seems to be working from the standpoint of letting a family know if they will
qualify for Medicaid or a subsidy to defray the cost of the monthly premium. However, when I calculated the cost of insurance for a 25 year old making $35,000/year, the Covered California estimated a monthly premium of $284/month with a $7 tax credit. My quoting engine found health insurance for $125/month and that wasn’t even the least expensive. So I’m not sure where they are pulling their premium numbers from. My only fear is that some people will see an unrealistically high premium amount and start to have doubts.
Overflowing with answers to questions
Perhaps the most important aspect is that the website is that it is up and loaded with answers to almost every question. They have good descriptions and the flow for getting health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. They even included the individual penalties for not purchasing health insurance, something you could never find on the federal government’s healthcare.gov site.
Comparisons lacking, will come in time
There are many “if this – then that” situations under the new healthcare reform regulations and they aren’t always easy to explain. Some of the topics are kind of murky without the benefit of actually comparing the health insurance plans to be offered. One example is the discussion of the metal level (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) insurance plans to select from. While Platinum covers more than Bronze, how that all translates into copayments, deductibles and coinsurance isn’t illustrated. In addition, the graphic makes it seem as if the higher the percentage the plan pays the lower monthly premium, which can’t be true.
Small business answers
The new website gives a great overview of the options for purchasing small business group insurance through the exchange. They cover the new Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) along with available tax credits and the employer’s responsibility. Just this information alone will put many small businesses at ease when they see how easy it will be to start or continue health insurance for their employees.
Texas could learn a thing or two
While the whole database of different health insurance plans offered has yet to be integrated into the site, the fact that Covered California has come out of the closet eight months before show time is great. California is really setting the standard and creating a model for the rest of the nation with our Covered California exchange. Are you listening and watching Texas? This is how you take care of your residents.