Much of the 'rubber meets the road' responsibility of health reform implementation falls to the states; this is by design as each state has a unique set of circumstances and qualities that must be adequately considered. Last week, California became the first state in the nation to make law one of the pillars of health reform, the health insurance exchange. The state bills, AB1602 and SB900, will establish what will be known as the California Health Benefit Exchange in 2014.
This Exchange will allow individuals and small businesses to easily compare health insurance plans on factors like price, performance, and consumer satisfaction, with many gaining access to insurance subsidies in order to help make insurance affordable. In all, nearly 3.5 million individuals will be eligible for these tax credits (totaling nearly $14 billion in tax cuts) who are today left to the unprotected, and overly expensive individual market. Moreso, the Exchange itself will be able to flex bargaining power in order to negotiate lower rates much like large businesses do now, and will force insurers to compete based on the quality of their product and not who can most effectively exclude 'unprofitable' individuals.
During his signing ceremony last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger also unveiled a new web portal intended to provide pertinent information on reform's implementation, which will most likely become the online access point for the Exchange itself, as well. Check it out here.