Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last week a set of measures aimed at preparing California for coming changes in how consumers get healthcare insurance. Some of the laws:
• To head off deceptive marketing attempts, AB 1761 bans unauthorized individuals and businesses from claiming to represent the California Health Benefit Exchange, the new central marketplace for buying insurance that goes into effect in 2014.
• Beginning in 2014, under AB 792, Californians who lose their health insurance because of job loss, divorce or legal separation will receive information about reduced-cost plans available through the health exchange and no-cost coverage from Medi-Cal.
• Self-employed people will be covered, under AB 1083, by California’s law governing small business health insurance. Previously, businesses had to have at least two employees to qualify. Backers argued that the change, effective in 2014, will expand the availability of affordable coverage to entrepreneurs.
• Insurers hoping to sell policies through the state exchange will have to meet minimum coverage standards as established by AB 1453 and SB 951. The new laws, supported by Consumers Union and other groups, designate two Kaiser HMO plans as the state’s “benchmarks” for benefits and services.
• The state’s Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees plans that help those who cannot get health insurance elsewhere, will get increased subsidies under AB 1526 to lower rates consumers pay. Legislative analysts estimated the bill will cost the state $16 million in 2013.