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Health Insurance Exchanges: Benefits, Challenges, Lessons

During the Jan. 10 #GTonHIX TweetChat, experts discuss the benefits of and potential efficiencies in creating state-run health insurance exchanges.

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Government Technology hosted its first TweetChat: Innovation in Focus – States and Health Insurance Exchanges.

The chat, held on Twitter using the hashtag #GTonHIX, included industry experts John Sweeney, IBM’s senior product manager for the Curam solution, and Dan Schuyler, director for Leavitt Partners’ health insurance exchange practice, to answer questions about state health insurance exchanges (HIX).

An HIX is a government-regulated, standardized marketplace for the purchase of health insurance, and the Obama administration mandates that each state have one. States may choose to create and run their own HIX, or they can opt out and have the federal government create their exchange for them.

States had to declare whether they were running their own exchange by Dec. 14, 2012. And according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of Jan. 4, 2013, 19 states, including the District of Columbia, submitted blueprints for HIXs to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which must approve the plans. Under the mandate, all insurance exchanges must be fully operational by Jan. 1, 2014. 

As the deadline looms, states may have pressing questions about what needs to happen by 2014. Here are some of the discussion highlights:

1.    What are the benefits for both states and their citizens in building these exchanges?

Exchanges provide consumers with a tool to compare different health plans side-by-side in an intuitive manner. #GTonHIX — Leavitt Partners (@LeavittPartners) January 10, 2013
2.    Are there any lessons learned from states that have implemented or are in the process of implementing an exchange?

MT @jjs_hix: #HIXes deployed the right way can provide citizens with a single point of access to eval eligibility for health plans #GTonHIX — Mitchell Derman (@mitchderman) January 10, 2013
3.    What are the technical challenges the states face in implementing HIXs?

Every state is unique with different eligibility rules, so flexibility & ability to configure is key to successful implementation #GTonHIX — John J. Sweeney (@JJS_HIX) January 10, 2013
4.    How different will the HIXs be across states?

There will be a lot of consistencies but states will build their exchange to meet their unique demographic needs and requirements. #GTonHIX — Leavitt Partners (@LeavittPartners) January 10, 2013
5.    How can states maximize the cost benefits of implementing these HIXs?

Cross utilization of the exchange across multiple state agencies is one way to maximize the cost benefit. #GTonHIX — Leavitt Partners (@LeavittPartners) January 10, 2013
Photo from Shutterstock 

Sarah Rich is a former staff writer for Government Technology.
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