Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Advocates urge CT Health Insurance Exchange Board members to consider consumers’ needs
In an August letter to the newly appointed members of the CT Health Insurance Exchange Board, eleven consumer advocacy organizations offered to help in their important work and urged the members to keep the needs of consumers in mind in all decisions. The insurance exchange was created in response to national health reform; most states are taking the option to create their own exchange with federal start up funding. The exchange was designed to provide CT consumers and small businesses with a rational, fair marketplace to purchase health insurance. It is critical that this market be a trusted credible source for consumers who will be required to purchase health insurance in 2014. It is estimated that one in ten state residents will secure coverage through the exchange by 2016 including 140,000 eligible for federal premium subsidies who will be required to purchase coverage through the exchange. The Board will have a number of difficult and controversial decisions to make including whether to allow any willing insurer to participate, as Utah has chosen, or actively purchase coverage to get the best deal for consumers, the Massachusetts model. The Board will have to decide which state mandates, if any, beyond the federal essential benefit package (EBP) to require of exchange plans, with the state likely paying the cost for those benefits. The proposed EBP is expected to be announced this fall. The Board will have to decide whether to create separate exchanges for individuals and for small businesses, whether to merge the small group and individual markets, and hire staff to run the exchange. CT’s law creating the exchange included very strong conflict of interest language supported by advocates, excluding people currently affiliated with the insurance industry among others. We expect that all members will honor the spirit of the law, regardless of background.