KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Calif. Insurers Competing To Be Part Of State Health Insurance Exchange

More than 30 plans are expected to seek to be part of the exchange, or new marketplace. Meanwhile, a small business health coverage exchange in Massachusetts -- a model for those called for by the health law in other states -- struggles.

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurers Line Up To Compete In California's Exchange
California's health insurance exchange said more than 30 plans are expected to vie with one another for spots in the state-run marketplace opening next fall. State officials, and those in other states, are eager to flex their purchasing power under the federal health care law by selecting only certain individual and small-business health plans for 19 different regions across California (Terhune, 10/31).

CQ HealthBeat: Massachusetts Exchange Program For Small Businesses Has Struggled. Why?
One of the major assumptions about health insurance exchanges is that they'll be attractive to the smallest businesses that have struggled to provide affordable health insurance to their workers. Problem is, in Massachusetts at least, it hasn't worked out that way, according to a new study. And Massachusetts is the model for the national health care overhaul. The Health Connector in Massachusetts "has not made major inroads" into the employer market, according to a paper from a group called Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization. "To date, the Connector’s small-group component clearly has failed to meet its goals," it says (Norman, 10/30).

In the meantime, Blue Shield says it will rebate $50 million to customers -- part of a pledge to limit profit.

Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Of California Will Return $50 Million To Customers
Health insurer Blue Shield of California said it would return $50 million to customers by year-end as part of its pledge to limit its annual profit to 2 percent of revenue. The San Francisco company said most customers would receive credit on their December bills. It said the average credit would be about $25 for an individual customer and roughly $75 for a family of four, depending on their premiums. ... Separately, Blue Shield issued nearly $11 million in rebates to customers earlier this year as part of new requirements under the federal healthcare law for a minimum amount of premiums to be spent on medical care (Terhune, 10/31).

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