Understanding California’s new health insurance exchange

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Details of California’s new health insurance exchange were announced today. Thirteen insurance agencies will offer a variety of plans, with about five million people eligible for coverage.

Some critics claim the exchange will lead to higher prices. But Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California, the state agency that has been created to manage the insurance exchange, says the plans will offer quality choices to consumers. Lee says an extensive campaign will be launched to sign up eligible Californians.

Premiums will range from no monthly charge to nearly 700 dollars a month depending upon a subscriber’s age, location, the plan selected, and whether they are eligible for a federal subsidy. About 2.5 million Californians will be eligible for some federal assistance.

Plan registration will begin in October. The plans go into effect on January 1. KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis spoke with Emily Bazar, senior writer with the California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting, for an explanation of the new system.