California finalizes exchange details ahead of deadlines

Right before the federal government extended the deadline for states to submit blueprint designs for their health insurance exchanges, California was putting the finishing touches on its own exchange details.

California has been ahead of all other states and several federal deadlines, having taken swift action to establish its own exchange once the reform law passed two years ago. The latest step California officials checked off their to-do list was finalizing its exchange blueprint, including a formal solicitation for qualified health plans, which the state completed on Tuesday, reported LifeHealthPro.

"We don't need more time," Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the board overseeing the state's exchange implementation, told the Associated Press. "We've been working feverishly over the past year, we're excited about going forward, and that blueprint is a big deal."

Kaiser Permanente is one of the 33 insurers that likely will submit bids to sell plans through California's exchange. Although Kaiser hasn't yet set premiums for its new exchange-based plans, it hopes to make them as affordable as possible. Bill Wehrle, Kaiser's vice president of exchanges, told the Fresno Business Journal that the insurer expects premiums to cover the cost of insuring exchange members without increasing rates for its other members.

To learn more:
- here's the California exchange blueprint (.pdf)
- read the Associated Press article
- see the LifeHealthPro article
- check out the Fresno Business Journal article