Wednesday, October 17, 2012
CT exchange staff won’t negotiate with insurers on behalf of consumers or small businesses
Staff of the CT Health Insurance Exchange have “opted to utilize an ‘any qualified plan’ approach” for determining which plans can be offered in the exchange. Proposed qualifications are minimal and generally only what is required by the Affordable Care Act. This decision is counter to the CT exchange’s own research. According to the market consultants, “One of the most attractive aspects of the Exchange is that the big insurance companies compete for their business. The feature evoked references to Lending Tree’s slogan ‘When banks compete you win.’” Utah’s health insurance exchange has pursued an “any qualified plan” approach, similar to CT’s staff proposal, and has attracted little enrollment with no evidence of cost control. Massachusetts’s Connector, on the other hand, operates with an active purchasing approach – negotiating with insurers to get the best price and quality for consumers. Annual premium increases for plans in Massachusetts’s exchange have been half the increase of plans outside the exchange. Starting in 2014, every CT resident will be required to secure health coverage. Over 150,000 state residents will have to buy it in the exchange to get federal affordability subsidies. According to the staff memo, the decision not to negotiate on behalf of consumers has been made and they are only taking comment on how to implement that policy. The memo was delivered Monday to the Qualified Health Plan Committee that no longer includes a consumer representative due to the unfortunate loss of Jennifer Jaff.