SEPT 2013 – Covered California Healthcare Exchange Gearing Up For Enrollment

Covered California Healthcare Exchange Gearing Up For Enrollment

With less than four weeks before the October 1 deadline the officials at the Covered California Healthcare Exchange are scrambling to launch the online enrollment system. If tests prove to show the system is still lacking, phone centers and paper applications are available for consumers ready to go.

The state is trying to reach as many as 5 million Californians who are uninsured or do not receive health insurance through their employers. The goal for Exchange enrollment is 1.4 million by December, 2014. Another 1.4 million Californians may be eligible for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor.

An issue for California as well as other states building their own exchanges is that they must verify people’s income, Social Security numbers and other information with a federal data hub.

A government audit conducted in August raised concerns about whether the federal system would complete testing for data security in time for an Oct. 1 launch. The testing is crucial to show that the system can safely transmit tax information and other data among state exchanges and federal agencies.

Citing that audit, Republicans in Congress have questioned whether people’s personal and financial information will be secure in these government systems, given the lack of testing. Federal officials say the data hub remains on track.

Two Covered California service centers were expected to start taking general calls in August. Nearly 800 people have taken a state exam to become certified for outreach and education work. Officials said 95% passed the exam with a score of 80% or higher. Covered California also has plans to provide training and certification for about 9,000 insurance agents.

A state advertising campaign will start in selected markets next month with a broader rollout in October. A Field Poll released this week found that just 25% of California voters younger than 65 said they had heard a lot or some about Covered California. Awareness was even lower among the uninsured: only 18% of those voters said they knew much about the new state-run market.