Covered California Introduces Standard Plans

Yesterday, Wednesday, February 13, Covered California unveiled a new website, its new social media presence, and in particular, the new benefit designs that this new marketplace will offer in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act to help California consumers get coverage more easily and affordably.

California has led the way in realizing the promise of “Obamacare”— being first to set up such an Exchange where consumers will be able to conveniently shop for quality, affordable health insurance that meets federal guidelines and where many people will be able to receive subsidies (100% federally subsidized) to help pay for coverage.

The standardization of health plans is a breakthrough for consumers, who will now be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons that is virtually impossible in today’s market. Consumers trying to buy health coverage today face a complex and confusing experience, facing fear of the fine print. The standardization of benefit designs will make it easier for consumers to compare health plans. It will force insurers to compete on cost and quality and customer service, rather than consumer confusion.

The news was covered by the Los Angeles Times by Chad Terhune, and also by Jon Healey, the AP by Judy Lin, KQED by Lisa Aliferis, and by the Sacramento Bee by Jeremy White.

Consumers will get good and simple information about what the plan covers, and what it doesn’t. It will remove the guesswork so many consumers go through trying to figure out the differences between plans, and provide the peace of mind that the plan they pick doesn’t have the hidden loophole they will regret later. For individuals and families who don’t work for large employers with signficant purchasing power, Covered California will serve as the HR department for the rest of us.

As consumer advocates, we have sponsored legislation to standardize plans for eight years, and this is a breakthrough that has been long-sought and badly needed. There is more to do to improve affordability and simplicity, but this is a big, bold step forward.

The new Covered California website is at

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.