If you can’t kill it, make money off it.
Many companies that run private health insurance exchange programs, such as electronic bulletin boards that consumers can use to compare and buy ordinary individual health insurance products, small group plans, or Medicare Advantage plans seem to be taking that approach toward the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) health insurance exchange program requirements.
If PPACA takes effect as written and works as drafters expect, new, government-supervised health insurance exchanges are supposed to start selling health insurance products that meet federal quality and comprehensiveness standards to individuals and small groups starting Jan. 1, 2014.
A state can run its own exchange, or several. A state also could join a multi-state exchange consortium or let the federal government provide exchange services for its residents.
A state can choose to farm out part of exchange administration to the government and handle some tasks itself, and it can run an exchange program as a government division or turn exchange management over to an independent nonprofit entity.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published what appear to be flexible rules that states can use when deciding how to structure exchange programs.
State insurance regulators have been talking about how they might go about setting up exchanges this week in National Harbor, Md., at the fall meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo.
Some companies have been taking a soft-sell approach, at least in their public relations efforts.
EHealth Inc., Mountain View, Calif. (NYSE:EHTH), the parent of eHealthInsurance.com, and Extend Health Inc., San Mateo, Calif., the manager of a private Medicare plan exchange, have put out press releases talking about the data they have cleaned from analyzing their customers’ buying patterns and survey responses.
The CHOICE Administrators Exchange Solutions unit of Word & Brown Companies, Orange, Calif., has distributed a release pointing out that it has been running a highly regarded private exchange program in California for 15 years. The program now serves 10,000 employers and 150,000 plan enrollees.
“There is another viable option for states deciding whether to go it on their own or default to a federal program,” Kevin Counihan, president of the unit, says in a statement in the release. “States should consider partnering with an organization that has the experience and track record of successfully running a private exchange.”