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D.C. exchange: Who's in?

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The District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Agency wants to find out what companies might sell medical insurance and dental coverage through the D.C. exchange.

The agency has put out a request for letters of intent from would-be D.C. exchange coverage issuers.

The letter would be non-binding, meaning that a carrier could send a letter of intent and then be free to deciding against trying to sell coverage through the exchange, officials said.

The letters are due April 15.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up exchanges for residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.

The District of Columbia intends to set up its own exchange.

PPACA also requires issuers of all non-grandfathered individual and small-group health coverage to shift to a new approach to underwriting in 2014. Carriers in those markets will not be able to use personal health information when deciding whether to issue coverage, and they will be able to make only limited use of personal health information when pricing coverage.

Carriers in the individual and small-group markets must cover a standardized “essential health benefits” (EHB) package, and exchange plans must offer coverage in one of four “metal levels” based on the percentage of the actuarial value of the EHB package that the plans cover. The coverage levels will be about 60 percent for bronze plans, 70 percent for silver plans, 80 percent for gold plans and 90 percent for platinum plans.

The exchange authority is asking carriers that send it letters of intent to estimate they number of plans they went to offer pier metal level and describe the types of products to be offered.

The authority suggests that the types of plans to be offered could include preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, health maintenance organization (HMO) plans or other types of plans.

The authority also has posted a request for proposals (RFP) from companies that want to sell it market research services.

Bids are due April 8. The authority hopes to select a winner by April 12 and have work begin by April 15. The work must be completed by June 30, officials said.

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