The federal grant totaled approximately $674 million. The Level II Federal Establishment Grant, as it is called, will allow Covered California to continue the development and establishment of the online health insurance marketplace that will bring high-quality and affordable health insurance options to millions of Californians.Pre-enrollment for the insurance plans offered by the marketplace will open in October 2013, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2014.
Covered California’s grant funding request was based on a detailed business model, which had the input of hundreds of stakeholders and experts in California. It was reviewed and revised to reflect cost-saving strategies, ultimately approved by the Covered California board in November 2013 and then submitted to the federal government in December 2012.
2) How will the grant funds be used?
Activities funded by the grant include:
- An online web portal where consumers can make apples-to-apples comparisons of quality, private plans and apply for federal tax credits towards the cost of those plans;
- Review and certification of the quality health plans that will be available for purchase through the online marketplace;
- A multi-cultural, multi-language marketing and education campaign designed to reach millions of eligible Californians and small businesses;
- A network of community-based “assisters” to help guide individuals though the process of enrolling;
- A multi-language call center to help enrollees with their questions; and
- An administration office to support efficiencies in the organization, which is expected to employ nearly 700 people by the end of 2013.
To date, California has received four federal grants. The initial funds were to be used for research, planning, information technology development and implementation. Grants included:
- $1 million in start up funding (2010)
- $39 million planning grant (2011)
- $196 million Level I.2 grant (2012)
4) Has Covered California received any state funding?
No. Covered California is funded entirely through grants from the federal government.While Covered California works in close partnership with other parts of state government, it can never be financially supported by State of California funds.
5) What specifically is Covered California doing to prepare for the millions of Californians who are expected to pre-enroll in a health insurance plan through the online marketplace beginning this October?
To be ready for opening of the marketplace, Covered California is:
- Selecting and certifying health plans by designating them as “Qualified Health Plans” for participation in the individual market and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP);
- Building the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System (CalHEERS); a consumer-friendly, Web-based portal designed to be the single, streamlined resource for Californians to find out what health insurance programs they are eligible for, and to make buying health insurance as easy as possible. Our goal is to make buying insurance from Covered California to be as easy as buying a book on Amazon.
- Launching the marketing, outreach and education programs to increase awareness of Covered California’s health coverage options for individuals and small businesses, with special attention to the state’s diverse populations and multi-languages, including developing a grant-based program to facilitate community participation in outreach and education; and
- Building and supporting a wide range of help options to assist consumers with questions; including service center staff, county workers, community-based assisters and agents, and others to help explain insurance and coverage options to the public. Our goal is to make sure consumers can get the help they need to make the choices that best meet their health coverage needs.