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Scripps Health Hedges Its Bets On Obamacare

Scripps HealthCare isn't immersing itself fully in Covered California, the state's online insurance exchange.

Sharp HealthCare, San Diego's largest healthcare provider, is offering its own plan as one of the options in the state's new health insurance exchange, Covered California. But San Diego's second-largest provider, Scripps Health, is not.

Scripps participates in the exchange through a number of Blue Shield plans, and through one of Health Net's PPOs.

But Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder said his organization didn't want to launch its own plan right now. That's because he thinks the first year of the exchange is a high-risk proposition.

For instance, Van Gorder said it's possible that a lot of very sick people will enroll who haven't had insurance in a long time.

"We want to be a provider for everybody, but we have to remain viable as a healthcare organization as well," the longtime CEO said. "And so, rather than jumping in with two feet and everything else, we'd like to see this roll out a little bit, so we understand where to position ourself in the marketplace."

Scripps has set up a hotline to answer questions about Obamacare. Van Gorder said the No. 1 question from consumers: How do I to sign up for free care?

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