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Ignoring CMS, CT Readies its HIX for Small Business

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, April 24, 2013

HLM: Are you afraid the small business owners will not be there without the weight of the federal government making it known that SHOP is an option?

KC: Not really. The reason why is because the small business market, like so much of the insurance business, is really driven by brokers, and the brokers are the most trusted advisor to small businesses on insurance purchasing. They're going to be the one business will turn to when they ask if this program is right for them, and they're very influential in the purchasing process.

HLM: Does outsourcing a large portion of Access Health CT's exchange make sense for Connecticut because it is a small state?

KC: No. It's really more of a strategic decision. We, on our team, believe that value rests more in marketing and outreach relations with health plan and product designs than it does with operational issues. Our goal is to look at focusing on those competencies that we think add value for our target market of individuals and small businesses, and outsource those things where we don't think we add as much value.

HLM: What kind of outreach will Access Health CT do?

KC: Our sense is that this push is best made as reasonably close to open enrollment as possible. The reason for that is because it's not a sexy purchase, like buying an iPhone, or a smartphone, or a car, or some new electronic gadget.

It's a category that, for a lot of people, they find it dull, expensive, and they associate it with less than good things. With health insurance, there's this thought that 'I'm only going to use it when something bad happens'. We're taking a consumer products approach to the marketing of the exchange, which means that we are looking at brokers, navigators, and in-person assisters as very valued distribution channels. We also think that's appealing to population segments, whether they be racial, ethnic, geographic, or other.

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