SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— Come January 2014, millions of uninsured Californians will be able to buy affordable health care coverage under the state’s benefit exchange. The five-member Benefit Exchange Board is making key decisions Thursday in Sacramento to lay the groundwork for who qualifies and how they can access those plans.

The board will look at how premiums get paid, how insurance brokers get paid and what platforms will be used to essentially operate the exchange, which is a virtual marketplace where people can buy insurance at competitive prices thanks to federal subsidies.

Peter Lee, the exchange’s executive director, said it will be a web-based system comparable to Travelocity.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

“You can go through it and pick the choice for you without calling anyone,” though Lee made a point to mention that a system would be in place where customers can call someone.

“[The board] is going to be taking up who’s on the other end of the phone. We want to make sure that it’s a first-class customer experience – that it’s not a nightmare phone bank hell, but rather you have a question, you get to a person,” Lee said.

Health care options have often times been complicated, but Lee said the phone operators will make things easy by walking customers through the plans.

This is a brand-new system being set up, but they will take advantage of existing county customer service centers that already serve Medi-Cal and Calworks clients.

It’s expected by year’s end 24 counties will operate customer service centers with 2,000 workers answering one million calls each month, providing outreach in 12 different languages.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)