When I took on the CEO role at Blue Shield of California at the start of 2013, we were at the outset of our participation in a brand-new state program: Covered California, the Golden State’s embodiment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It was uncharted territory, with an ambitious and important goal of opening the door to high-quality and affordable health care coverage for uninsured Californians.
As we celebrate Covered California’s 10th anniversary this week, we can look back and celebrate just how the program’s success has made a real and lasting difference in the health of the people of our state.
In one short decade, millions of California residents have benefitted from Covered California’s access to affordable health plans, the ability to compare plans and costs, and to purchase them easily, even online. Targeted subsidies ensure that quality plans are within reach of lower-income individuals and families across the state. With coverage, people could seek regular checkups and preventive care, get treatment for chronic conditions, and be prepared should a health emergency arise.
California was one of the earliest leaders in ensuring the ACA would do all this and more to help to build a better health care system for everyone. It was that foresight and leadership that enabled California to set a national standard for how the ACA should work and move us closer to universal coverage.
The success of Covered California means that Blue Shield of California is able to provide primary care services for all our members. We are also driving quality improvement and delivery system reform. And we’re improving the ability of Californians to transition among employer, individual, and Medi-Cal coverage as their needs and circumstances change. Blue Shield of California is the only health plan that offers coverage in all 58 California counties, which is one reason that 94% of all Californians have a choice of at least three plans.
At Blue Shield of California, we’re proud of our involvement from the outset in Covered California, and we are continuing to build on that foundation. The goals of the initiative aligned with our values and our mission to create a healthcare system that is worthy of our family and friends and sustainably affordable. That’s why we embraced Covered California and the role it plays in bringing us ever closer to that future.
Paul Markovich is president and chief executive officer of Blue Shield of California.