Massachusetts regulators have been tinkering with the design of their state’s health insurance exchange.
Glen Shor, executive director of the state’s Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, talked about the authority’s Web-based Commonwealth Choice exchange recently at a hearing in Boston on health care costs organized by the Massachusetts of Health Care Finance and Policy.
The authority’s exchange helped influence the drafters of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). One PPACA section requires states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up a system of health insurance exchanges by 2014. The exchanges are supposed to provide a “one stop shopping system” that individuals and small groups can use to buy high-quality health coverage with new federal health insurance tax credits.
Commonwealth Choice — an exchange for Massachusetts residents who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid — now serves about 40,000 people, Shor said, according to a written version of his testimony provided by the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services.
Unlike the PPACA exchange program, which would offer access to tax credits, Commonwealth Choices offers no pricing advantage over consumers buying coverage through traditional channels, Shor said.
“Along these lines, no individual or small business is effectively limited or assigned to shopping through the Health Connector,” Shor said.
One lesson exchange managers learned was to avoid giving consumers too many choices.