SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – After Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, several million Californians could be among the first in the nation to qualify for government subsidized insurance because of state efforts.

Unlike many states, California did not wait for a ruling on the constitutionality of the health care reform law to begin work on its insurance exchange, said Peter Lee, executive director of the California Health Benefit Exchange.

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“What’s really been a distraction from our going full speed ahead has been pushed aside,” he said, including more aggressive outreach and advertising to teach Californians about the exchange.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

Lee said nearly half of the estimated 7 million Californians currently without health insurance will qualify for some kind of federally subsidized plan.

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“The exchange is going to make it very affordable for over 3 million Californians. Those are folks who will get credits that will help them buy the private health plan that they want that’s right for them,” he said.

They will join the 500,000 Californians are already reaping the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, including young people allowed to stay on their parents plans and others who remain insured despite pre-existing medical conditions.

The subsidized plans are not only for low-income people. Lee said a family of four earning as much as $90,000 a year, for example, would also qualify for federal help to buy private insurance.

Shopping for health plans on the exchange begins in October 2013. States have until January 1, 2014 to have their health insurance exchanges up and running.

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