California plans full online launch of Obamacare on October 1

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 09, 2013 4:40 PM

(Reuters) - California said it is planning for a full launch of its Obamacare online health insurance exchange on October 1, after testing its functionality.

Last month, the state said it was considering a soft launch of the exchange if tests showed it was not ready for wide public access. But tests of the system last week were encouraging, said Dana Howard, deputy director of communications for the Covered California exchange.

"All of our testing so far indicates that there is not going to be a problem doing self-enrollment online on Oct 1," Howard said.

Howard said the exchange would continue to do testing, "but it appears that things are looking very good."

Under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, formally the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, millions of uninsured Americans will be able to sign up for new government subsidized health insurance plans starting on October 1 via online exchanges in each state.

But the scale of the effort and political resistance in many states have led to delays in implementation of the law and raised questions about whether all 50 states will be ready by that date.

California, which embraced Obamacare early on, is considered one of the most crucial states for the administration's enrollment effort.

Covered California aims to sign up 1 million to 1.4 million people in 2014. Overall, exchanges across the country are expected to provide coverage for 7 million people next year.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)