California, the biggest state to reveal health plan details for its health exchange, is moving unabated toward its target of full implementation of Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, by the October 1 deadline. A recent change in the federal mandate removed the penalty against large firms that failed to provide health insurance to its employees. Previously, the ACA required firms with more than 50 employees to provide employee coverage by January 2014. This newly affected relief allows companies with more than 50 employees to delay their compliance until 2015.

This delay comes as a blessing for many employers who are still trying to determine the ramifications this mandate, or its subsequent fee, on their budgets. CMS has tried to ensure that employers are not confused with the requirement or process but some employers still require additional time for transition.

The Covered California implementation team is confident that this delay will not impact their delivery. On October 1, Covered California expects to be fully operational and live. The contributory factors behind their confidence are:

•    The availability of federal subsidies for 1.5 million uninsured employees working in firms with more than 50 employees. These subsidies would allow uninsured to obtain coverage from Covered California until their employer is required to provide coverage in 2015.

•    Analytical results show that the delay in administering of mandates will only be short term and not damage the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act. This factor allowed Covered California to move ahead without worrying about consequences due to the delay.

•    The focus of Covered California has been entirely on uninsured individuals and small employers. Therefore, large employers were never a focus point so the delay doesn’t significantly impact the health insurance marketplace.

Covered California is naturally predisposed to avoid any pitfalls presented by this delay. With its continued efforts to beat the clock and provide coverage to its citizens, a state of this size definitely serves as an example for others in the same boat.

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