SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — California’s health benefit exchange is the first in the nation to create standard benefits designed to help people shop for insurance coverage under the federal health care overhaul.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, announced the benefits Wednesday. He said they would help consumers more easily determine what kind of coverage they want to buy.

About 2.6 million Californians who will be eligible for federal subsidies will be able to figure out their monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses before insurance companies submit their bids later this year. Californians eligible for assistance will pay only a percentage of their income.

Covered California senior advisor, Ken Wood, said four “metal” plans will be standard through out the state: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

A Platinum plan would cover 90 percent of cost with co-pays making up the remaining 10 percent. Gold would cover 80 percent; Silver, 70 percent and Bronze cost 40 percent out of pocket.

“That’s really a catastrophic plan. It’s designed to protect somebody from financial collapse if they had a sever illness,” said Wood.

Lee called this standard benefit design a “game changer.”

“It lets insurance consumers shop from one plan to the next knowing that the benefits are the same,” he said.

Lee also said that health insurance market is welcoming the change.

“They are ready and embrace the opportunity to compete not based on a shell game of hidden benefits but based on quality and value.”

The state’s marketplace will open in October.

The benefits can be found by logging into

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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