Executive Director of Covered California Peter Lee says a few hundred thousand Californians may choose to leave their employer plans and sign up through the exchange over its first five years.
Lee says large employers are required to offer affordable health coverage under the federal health law.
LEE: "If they're offering coverage that's pretty bad coverage that's thin coverage, that employee can come to us and get a federal subsidy and get health care through Covered California. If that's the case, that employer might get dinged with a federal penalty, saying they aren't offering rich enough coverage."
Lee says a person's ability to benefit from the switch depends on factors such as their income.
But he emphasizes the role of employer-based coverage in the federal health care overhaul.
LEE: "To make this whole health system work, employers need to stay in the game. We need to keep employers offering employer based coverage, and we become a backstop for where they aren't offering that coverage or for individuals right now who have no place to go."
Lee says the number of Californians who would leave their job's coverage is small compared to the five million who are expected to be covered overall through the marketplace.