California’s Health Exchange Seeks To Make Buying Health Insurance ‘As Easy As Buying A Book On Amazon’

Peter V. Lee, the head of the California Health Benefit Exchange — the organization that will lead the state’s effort to implement the federal health care overhaul under Obamacare — said he dreams of a day when Americans will be able to log onto a computer and shop for health insurance in the same way as they shop for products on Amazon.

After President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, California was the first state to set up a health care exchange under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Now, under the California Benefit Exchange, the state is working to attract new subscribers, build out the enrollment system, and select the health insurers and the plans that will be provided. In addition to crafting policy, the California Benefit Exchange is also working on a PR campaign to more fully educate residents about their health insurance options.

As Lee explained to the Sacramento Bee, the political controversy surrounding Obamacare didn’t delay his state from taking the necessary steps to work toward a health exchange program that will benefit uninsured and low-income Californians:

LEE: We’ve been moving ahead full-throttle even before the Supreme Court decision. This doesn’t really change things for us. It changes things in the eyes of others, who are now saying, ‘Wow, this exchange thing is going to be real.’

This is a departure from lawmakers’ attitudes in states like Florida, South Carolina, and Wisconsin — whose governors have pledged to hold off on setting up health exchanges until after the presidential election, in case Mitt Romney takes office and works to repeal Obamacare.

States have to turn in their exchange plans to the federal government by November so that the state programs can be approved by Jan. 1, 2013, and California is already well ahead of the curve.