Officials Look to Utah, Massachusetts as Models for Insurance Exchanges
States are concerned about certain aspects of implementing the health insurance exchanges created under the federal health reform law, one of the most "complicated pieces" of the overhaul, Politico reports.
According to the reform law, states must establish an insurance exchange by 2013 or the federal government will set up the exchange. The systems must be ready for consumers by 2014.
Details of Massachusetts, Utah Systems
Massachusetts and Utah already have state-based health insurance exchanges, but they have chosen opposing strategies for the systems.
Massachusetts set up a complex exchange that gives officials the authority to reject insurers' premium bids if they consider the proposals too high.
Utah employs a more relaxed exchange that is comparable to a "farmers market," according to Cheryl Smith, a director a Leavitt Partners and former director of the Utah Health Exchange Office.
A significant problem experienced with the exchanges thus far has been that consumers sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of options for private insurance, according to Rosemarie Day, president of Day Health Strategies and former deputy director and chief operating officer of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority in Massachusetts. She said that sometimes too many choices are just as bad as not enough choices.
Further Concerns for States
Some states also are concerned about the timeline for implementing the exchanges and have said they do not have enough time to establish them by 2013.
Meanwhile, some states are looking to establish regional exchanges with other states -- permitted under the law -- but are apprehensive about overcoming political and logistical barriers. The states are concerned about controlling costs and working with Medicaid to determine customer eligibility, additional responsibilities that come as states faces budget deficits.
HHS has attempted to address states' concerns by awarding grants to five states willing to establish programs that others can use as models (Haberkorn, Politico, 11/16). The selected states will receive federal grants to fund their work.Joel Ario -- director of health insurance exchanges at the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight -- said that the amount of money states would receive has not been decided and that the agency did not want to set a limit (California Healthline, 10/29). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.