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12 Insurers Sign Contracts For California Exchange – But One Plan Opts Out

Reports also detail how health exchanges are taking shape in Maryland, Wisconsin, Oregon, Iowa, D.C. and Connecticut.

Los Angeles Times: California Exchange Signs Up 12 Insurers, Loses Ventura County Plan
California signed contracts with 12 health insurers for its new state-run marketplace, but the Ventura County Health Care Plan unexpectedly dropped out. Covered California, which is implementing the federal healthcare law in the state, said it supported Ventura County’s decision to opt out next year and that it welcomes a subsequent bid for 2015 (Terhune, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Maryland Opens Call Center To Provide Information About Health Care
The center opened in Baltimore on Wednesday. It will include bilingual staff to help residents and small employers with health coverage options. It also will have staff available to help explain financial assistance options (8/7).

The Associated Press: Insurance Companies In Wis. Exchange Released
Thirteen insurance companies in Wisconsin want to offer coverage to individuals in the new marketplace established under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul law. The names of those interested were released Tuesday by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, but there were no details about how much the plans would cost or the extent of their coverage (Bauer, 8/7).

The Lund Report: Oregon Tribes Turn To Cover Oregon To Offset Health Service Cuts
The federal sequestration has bore down hard on the Indian Health Service, but now Indian health providers are angling to use the Affordable Care Act to expand access to private health insurers through Cover Oregon and help these beleaguered providers remain solvent. Healthcare has been a right guaranteed to Indian tribes since the federal government took away most of their land in the 19th century (Gray, 8/7).

Des Moines Register: Insurance Exchanges Concern Wellmark Chairman
New public systems for purchasing health insurance likely will have a rocky rollout later this year, the leader of Iowa’s dominant health insurance company predicted Wednesday. “This isn’t going to work well initially, in my opinion,” John Forsyth, chairman of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said of the new public insurance exchanges (Leys, 8/7).

CQ HealthBeat: D.C. Exchange Chief To Congress: Come On Down!
The thought of having to switch from the federal employee health benefit program to insurance exchange coverage may be causing angst among Capitol Hill aides, but if they’re heading to the D.C. exchange, the head of that marketplace says she’ll do her best to make them feel welcome. Mila Kofman, the executive director of the exchange, DC Health Link, said in an interview that insurers participating in the new marketplace include such FEHB mainstays as Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s CareFirst plan, Kaiser Permanente and Aetna (Reichard, 8/7).

CT Mirror: The Obamacare Premiums Are In. But What About Deductibles And Copays?
There’s been a lot of news this week about what it will cost to buy insurance through the new marketplace created by federal health reform. But what will those prices get you? For many people, choosing the cheapest premium will mean buying a plan with a $3,250 deductible and additional costs once the deductible is met — in many cases, 40 percent of the price of care (Becker, 8/8).

In addition, news outlets continue to examine potential security concerns related to the tight timeline to open online health insurance marketplaces –

McClatchy: Security Concerns Jeopardize October Opening Of Health Insurance Marketplaces
The opening of the health insurance marketplaces in October – key to Obamacare – is in jeopardy because of looming questions about information security. The problem stems from tight deadlines that must be met to ensure the security of data moving through an information system that supports the marketplaces, sometimes referred to as exchanges, according to a new government watchdog report (Pugh, 8/7).

Fox News: Obamacare Security Testing Lags Behind, How Safe Is Your Data?
The clock is ticking for the rollout of health-care exchanges and the government has reportedly hit another bump in the road, and this time consumer privacy may be at risk. The federal government is lagging months behind certain deadlines it set for testing data security for the central hub—a vital point that details personal information to determine consumers’ eligibility for insurance, according to a May inspector general report from the Department of Health and Human Services that was released last week. These security check points are required before the health-exchanges go public on Oct.1 (Rogers, 8/7).