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AHIP: Enormity of HIX Challenges Sinks In

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, March 10, 2014

No rest for the weary
For the past two years, the challenges of rolling out and stabilizing the new public exchanges have preoccupied all of the players involved, from regulators to insurers, to healthcare providers. But the main theme at the AHIP exchange forum was the challenges ahead in 2015 and beyond:

  • The rise of the consumer
  • Deterioration of the risk pool resulting from last week's federal government decision to allow consumers to keep non-PPACA-compliant health plans until fall 2016
  • Maintaining education and outreach efforts in 2015
  • Product design in the evolving public exchange marketplace
  • Focusing on sustainability of the exchanges and consumer retention

Mark Waterstraat, chief strategy officer at Benaissance in Omaha, NE, said it will be essential for health plans to establish direct relationships with consumers if they are going to be successful in the public exchanges. "We are going to go through a significant transition in this industry," he said, noting that brokers played the direct customer service role in the pre-PPACA health insurance market.

Insurers offering policies on the public exchanges need to look to major retailers as role models and offer one-stop shopping experiences such as a suite of insurance products including medical, dental, vision, life and disability coverage, Waterstraat said. "If we don't get out in front in this move to the consumer, others will," he said.

Cohen defended the decision to allow consumers to keep their non-PPACA-compliant policies. "The last thing we want is for someone who had health insurance to lose it," the CMS official said. "We want to give people as many options as we can."

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