According to California Healthline, California was one of the leaders in implementing the Affordable Care Act through the Covered California exchange program. Within the first open enrollment period, California had the highest number of sign ups along with Medicaid enrollments.That’s not to say that it wasn’t a bumpy start with the website issues. However, California’s early preparations did lead to a better growth rate at the end of the enrollment period compared to other state run exchanges.
What lead to this success?
California focused efforts on enrolling people in Medi-Cal (more than 600,000 state residents received coverage through this expansion)
$200 million dollars was spent marketing Covered California to the public
California was able to recover quickly from the website crashes that occurred in October while other states had more trouble bouncing back
Who obtained coverage?
1.4 million people signed up for private plans on the exchange (double the expected amount)
1.9 people enrolled in Medi-Cal
What did California do differently?
California did not allow people to keep plans that did not follow the ACA requirements
California reviewed who was enrolling and adjusted their marketing strategies accordingly
Still, despite these “wins” for California, there were some challenges along the way. The website outages in the beginning along with consistent service issues trying to get a hold of Covered California representatives lead to many frustrated customers. In addition there have been some discrepancies in terms of the cost of coverage in different markets that is causing many to be upset. For example. the cost of a healthcare policy in San Francisco can cost up to 50% more than the same policy elsewhere.
So has California actually won the race in implementing a successful Obamacare policy? That will be determined in the coming months as the next enrollment period begins and people become adjusted to their policies.