HIX Decision Day Looms for Remaining States
No, not for you. States are making this one. Namely, whether they will operate their own health care exchanges or let the federal government do it. They’ve got til Friday to decide.
Exchanges, you’ll remember, are the online sites where small businesses and people who aren’t insured at work, will be able to shop for health insurance starting in 2014.
States? The fed? You may be wondering what difference it makes anyway.
Well, here’s one difference, says Georgetown professor Sabrina Corlette: power.
“A state that’s going to run its own exchange has an opportunity to really change the entire health care landscape if it wants to do that,” she says.
So for example, says Corlette, say a state has a big obesity problem. The state can make sureall the insurance plans on the exchange cover programs aimed at reducing obesity.
“Essentially the state is using its market clout to get the health plans and the providers to change their behavior and reduce healthcare costs over the long run,” she says.
But more than half the states aren’t expected to go that route; they’ll let the federal government operate their exchanges.
With that, though, comes predictability. Sonya Schwartz at the National Academy for State Health Policy thinks that could be attractive to insurance companies.
“Health plans may be able to just come to the federal exchange and fill out their information and select multiple states all at once, rather than going to one state at a time,” says Schwartz.
Everybody wants lots and lots of insurers offering plans on the exchanges. The theory goes the more competition, the lower the price.
So I ask Robert Zirkelbach with America’s Health Insurance Plans what the industry prefers.
“It’s too early to know how the federal exchange will compare to what the state exchanges are going to look like,” he says.