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Design Element the First Step Toward No-Wrong-Door

California took an important first step toward implementation of the Health Benefit Exchange last week when it unveiled the initial design for enrolling Californians and determining their eligibility in 2014.

The initial design of the project, called Enroll UX 2014 (UX stands for “user experience”), was presented to the Health Benefit Exchange board by project director Terri Shaw.

“We have teams from 11 states participating in the process,” Shaw said. “The objectives are two-fold — to develop a first-class user experience, and to ensure retention of consumers.”

It is a challenge to design a system that will work with disparate exchange rules in so many states, she said, as well as work in the diverse health care environment in California.

“It’s customizable,” Shaw said. “These are design materials, not software and not code. People can pick it up and implement it readily. It’s a single design that every state will be able to customize.”

The page is designed to help Californians determine their eligibility and see what type of health plan and services might work for them — whether that user of the page desires a lot of information to make decisions, or prefers to have choices simplified, she said.

“We’re looking at a user-driven design concept here. We envision a guided process,” Shaw said. “The search tools and filter tools narrow down the list of preferences for them.”

The scope of the effort encompasses a broad range of users: those in the individual market, CHIP (California Healthcare for Indigents Program), the Basic Health Plan (which California doesn’t offer, but other states do), the Health Benefit Exchange, Medi-Cal and other programs.

“This is a full, end-to-end eligibility process, with plan comparison and selection, as well as a retention experience,” Shaw said.

The ideal, she said, was to develop a uniform application process for a variety of health care pathways.

Exchange board member Robert Ross said if Shaw’s team could fully accomplish that, it would be an enormous breakthrough — both for California and the nation. He asked if CMS had agreed to the design yet because that agency’s involvement is critical to having a single application.

“I want to talk about the single application process. That’s like the search for the Holy Grail,” Ross said, looking through the design. “So is this what a single-portal entry would look like?”

Shaw said it’s close, at this point.

“This is a work in progress, it’s not done,” Shaw said. “But, yes, we are working closely with CMS. We are not done yet, but that is the goal.”

Enroll UX 2014 is a public-private partnership of 11 states, the federal government and eight health care foundations, including the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline.

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