State insurance exchange options deemed innovative and generous

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 22, 2013

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Many of the developing state-run health insurance exchanges are going beyond the Affordable Care Act’s minimum requirements when it comes to what they will offer consumers, the Commonwealth Fund reported.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia plan to run their own exchanges in 2014, launching marketplaces in which individuals and small businesses can shop for affordable health care options. The report concluded that many of exchanges are testing innovative strategies to ensure variety in plan choices and develop competitive markets.

For example, almost all of the state-run Small Business Health Options Programs will provide more than one plan choice to businesses even though a requirement to do so won’t take effect in federally administered exchanges until 2015. Nine of the state-run exchanges will be displaying plan quality data in 2014, two years ahead of a federal requirement, and eight are directing insurers to sell plans at coverage levels beyond the law’s minimum silver and gold benefits levels.

It’s encouraging to see states working on these types of innovations to ensure affordable, comprehensive coverage in their respective exchanges, said Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, MD, in a statement. “It will be critical for states to monitor their success and amend their design as needed to ensure consumers have the best possible experience.”

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