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Hundreds of Thousands of Californians May Leave Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

The director of California's health benefit exchange said hundreds of thousands of people may choose to leave their company's health plan over the next five years. Peter Lee said those consumers would instead choose to get insurance through the exchange created by the federal health law.

Aired 3/5/13 on KPBS News.

The director of California’s health benefit exchange says hundreds of thousands of people may choose to leave their company’s health plan over the next five years and go to the exchange.

But on the flip side, Lee said he hasn't heard of any California employers who plan to drop employees from coverage.

"To make this whole health system work, employers need to stay in the game," Lee commented. "We need to keep employers offering employer based coverage, and we become a backstop for where they aren't offering that coverage or for individuals right now who have no place to go."

Lee said being able to benefit from leaving employer coverage depends on how robust that company's plan is, and the consumer's income level. Large employers may get a financial penalty if their employee joins the exchange.

Lee said five million Californians are expected to get health insurance through the new marketplace, which recently rebranded itself as "Covered California."

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