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Ignoring CMS, CT Readies its HIX for Small Business

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, April 24, 2013

America's health consumers are five months away from the government's grand health insurance exchange experiment. The idea of an insur ance exchange isn't new, but it's never been done on such a large scale, and some wonder if the exchanges aren't too much too soon.

Connecticut, which aims to "set the standard for state health exchanges," is one of 18 states running a state-based HIX, called Access Health CT. Its CEO, Kevin Counihan, a veteran healthcare industry leader, says his state's HIX won't be perfect, but it will be ready, and so will its Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program, despite receiving federal permission to delay SHOP until 2015. Counihan recently spoke with HealthLeaders Media about Connecticut's HIX.

HLM: Why is Connecticut moving forward with its SHOP exchange when the federal government has told states they could delay the program?

KC: We had planned to offer this as part of a federal requirement, so we built that into our business plan. I come from that SHOP/vendor world, so I knew firms that we could outsource to [that] would be more efficient than if we were to have our system integrators build it from scratch.

Most of the state-based exchanges are building this from scratch and I believe that, at least for our state, that was probably not the most efficient move. We could get up and running faster and cheaper by outsourcing, which is frankly, our operations strategy in general. So because of that planning, we were able to do it and it just seemed there was no reason not to offer it.

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