Heather Howard moderates state exchange leaders' discussion
Heather Howard Moderates Discussion of State Exchange Leaders at the National Health Insurance Exchange Summit, May 1-3, 2013
Recently I attended the National Health Insurance Exchange Summit, which brought together state and federal officials, health policy experts and consumer advocates from around the country to discuss a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Health Insurance Marketplaces or Exchanges (HIX). I moderated a discussion, “State Exchanges: Obstacles to Overcome: Lessons Learned from Leading State Health Insurance Exchanges,” between several officials representing the state-based Exchanges in Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada and Rhode Island.
Under the ACA, states may choose to develop their own state-based Exchanges, and 17 states plus the District of Columbia have done so. They face an aggressive timeline for implementation, and are working hard to operationalize their strategic policy decisions, including selecting and managing Qualified Health Plans (QHP’s), building consumer-friendly web portals and new eligibility determination systems, and creating robust consumer assistance programs.
These state leaders discussed the progress they’ve made – such as contracting with community-based organizations to serve as navigators to help consumers choose and enroll in health insurance, and the challenges they face – for example, the need to pivot when new federal guidance is released. I asked how they will define success on October 1 when Open Enrollment begins; they agreed that building a successful exchange is an iterative process, and thus Oct 1 is just the start of their efforts to improve the consumer experience and reform the health care marketplace.
The panelists agreed about the promise of exchanges to transform our health care system, and believe that the goal of an exchange should be to innovate and improve over time. Accepting the fact that the road to implementation does not end as soon as enrollment begins is paramount to understanding the arduous work states still have ahead of them. While this may seem daunting, this diverse group of state officials is confident in the exchanges they have built. Enrollment will begin on October 1, 2013 and innovation will certainly continue for years to come.