In January 2013, the federal government gave its approval to California’s healthcare exchange plan that allowed California residents to benefit from more competitive healthcare insurance prices.
The healthcare exchange program is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law that seeks to bring healthcare coverage to previously uninsured Americans.
Along with the expansion of Medicaid, or as it is called in California, Medi-Cal, the exchange has changed the way Californians approach obtaining healthcare insurance. While the Medi-Cal expansion allows anyone earning up to 133% of the federal poverty limit to be covered, the exchange is designed to help self-employed individuals or others who pay for their own health care insurance, as well as small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
The California healthcare exchange became operational in 2014 with multiple healthcare plans participating.
For families and individuals earning between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty limit, government subsidies are available to help offset the cost of any healthcare insurance acquired through the healthcare exchange. Anyone not earning enough to qualify for the exchange can apply for Medi-Cal, a state and federally funded program.