Rollout and triage have been the dominant concerns for the new public health insurance exchanges in 2014. But a whole new set of challenges looms as payers look ahead to building out and sustaining the centerpiece of the healthcare reform effort.
A pair of top government officials set the tone early for the Exchanges Forum in Washington, D.C. March 6 – 7 organized by America's Health Insurance Plans.
The first speaker at the exchange forum was Gary Cohen, who has been leading the federal effort to establish the new public exchanges as director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. CCIIO is a branch of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"The Number One thing we learned from 2014 is this is hard work," said Cohen, who is leaving the federal government at the end of the month, when enrollment in the public exchanges for 2014 comes to a close. "As long as we all keep our focus, then I think we will be more successful as time goes by… We have to continue to be willing to learn lessons."
Diana Dooley, secretary of California Health and Human Services as well as chairwoman of the California Health Benefit Exchange, was even more frank in her remarks to the several hundred health plan executives who had gathered for the exchange forum.
"It isn't smooth and it isn't going to be smooth for some time," Dooley said. "We were able to open on October 1 but it was not perfect… We would all like to take a breath, but there's no time."
"I think the hardest work is just beginning," the California official said.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.