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By Daniel Weintraub
The Supreme Court decision last week upholding President Barack Obama’s health reform law clears the way for a transformation in the way millions of Californians will get their health insurance, and, ultimately, their care.
For the shrinking number of people who still receive insurance coverage as a benefit from their employers – mostly at big companies – the changes will be gradual at first, though still significant. And despite assurances from Obama, it is still not clear that most people will be able to keep the coverage they have today.
But for individuals who do not have insurance because they are unemployed, self-employed or working in places that do not offer health benefits, the change will be dramatic, fast and probably to their liking.
The top state insurance executive in Massachusetts urged California lawmakers Wednesday to “start early” in building a new health insurance exchange that will be at the center of the state’s implementation of the federal health reform passed in March. Jon Kingsdale said the exchange can play a big role in reducing administrative costs and premiums, spurring competition and giving consumers a simple way to compare insurance plans and prices.
It will be years before the new health insurance exchange at the heart of the federal health reform passed in March rolls out in California. But decisions being made now could shape how that exchange looks and works, the health benefits it makes available to consumers, how much Californians pay for their coverage and the roles played by the government and the private insurance industry.