Few States Choose to Operate Health Insurance Exchanges

Doug Desjardins , February 15, 2013

No wrong door
The goal all states share in building their exchange is to make them easy to use. Like any business, the price consumers pay for a health plan will be based on economies of scale and making the exchange easy to use will presumable attract more customers and help drive down rates.

Most states are also incorporating their Medicaid enrollment plans into the exchange to create a single destination for all enrollees.  Starting in 2014, Medicaid expansion will make people with annual incomes of up to 138% of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid, an increase from the current level of 100%. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates an additional 21.3 million people will become eligible for Medicaid under Medicaid expansion by 2022 if all states participate.

Maryland is taking the single destination approach as it builds the Maryland Health Connection with the help of IBM. The exchange will provide a single point of connection for state residents enrolling for private plans, Medicaid, and the Maryland Children's Health Program. Craig Hayman, general manager for industry solutions at IBM, said the goal is to create an online venue "where citizens can manage all aspects of finding insurance, from determining eligibility and shopping for plans to calculating tax credits."

Danielle Davis, director of communications and outreach for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said the goal is to create a simple enrollment process where residents can enter their personal information and let the website do the rest.

"From the beginning, we've taken a 'no wrong door approach' to make the consumer experience as simple as possible," said Davis. "It's all about creating a user-friendly design that makes the exchange accessible to everyone."

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of HealthLeaders' Media's Medicine on the Net newsletter.

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