Politics & Government

U.S. can learn from California's health insurance experiment, experts say

The Obama administration wants to remake the health insurance market so millions now without health coverage can buy private policies through a proposed government-run insurance exchange.

California has gone down this road before and stumbled.

The state's failed 13-year experiment with a health insurance exchange could be instructive, experts say, as Washington debates the direction it will take to revamp the country's health care system.

A national insurance exchange is the centerpiece of overhaul legislation that aims to provide the country's estimated 46 million uninsured — nearly 7 million in California — access to health coverage.

All three leading proposals currently include an insurance exchange, from which the uninsured and small businesses would be able to buy health coverage for themselves or their employees.

Insurers don't reject the concept of a government-run insurance marketplace but are far from willing to embrace it because all of the details aren't yet known.

From the start, California found its experiment with a health insurance exchange rough going.

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