What's The Real Start Date For Health Exchanges? Oct. 1 Or Jan. 1?

The Washington Post asks this question, and offers Jan. 1 as the answer because it is the day the health law's individual mandate takes effect and the policies purchased from the new online insurance marketplaces kick in. The Oct. 1 date is the "soft launch." Meanwhile, progress reports from Colorado, Washington and California on the health exchanges.    

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: The White House Says Obamacare Begins On Oct. 1. Not Really.
As I spent time reporting my most recent article – checking in with state marketplaces — it became increasingly clear that their big day isn’t necessarily Oct. 1. Instead, it’s Jan. 1, the day that the individual mandate takes effect and any plans purchased on the marketplace actually kick in. The space between October and December is viewed, by many standing up the health care law, as soft launch: the time to make their new Web sites live, sort out the kinks and get the site in prime condition for the beginning of 2014 (Kliff, 8/26).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Colo. Insurance Commissioner Braces For Bumps In Road
Colorado, which is preparing for the Oct. 1 launch of its new online insurance marketplace, expects bumps in the road as residents start enrolling in new health coverage options created by the Affordable Care Act. "We're going to have 500,000 new customers," said Marguerite Salazar, the state’s new insurance commissioner, during an Aug. 19 interview – her second day on the job. "Just think of how many possibilities there are for things to go wrong there." She has great faith in the staff she's now leading at Colorado's Division of Insurance, she said, but is realistic about the big changes that are coming (Whitney, 8/27).

Seattle Times/Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Wash. Launches Ad Blitz Promoting Health Exchange
With five weeks left until Washington state launches its online health-insurance exchange, many residents may have heard little about the program designed to offer coverage to the uninsured. That's begun to change. The state began rolling out the first phase of its ad campaign last week to let the public know about the exchange, a central part of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Landa, 8/26).

California Healthline: $9 Million Grant For Consumer Outreach
The California Endowment last week awarded a $9.2 million, three-year grant to a group of legal aid organizations to help expand the effort to educate lower-income Californians about choices under the Affordable Care Act, including coverage in the state's new health benefit exchange and the expanded version of Medi-Cal, both due to start in January. Health Consumer Alliance will receive the grant announced Thursday. It's a consortium of 11 legal aid organizations, including the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Bay Area Legal Aid and the Fresno-based Central California Legal Services (Gorn, 8/26).

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