Thanks to David Kerrigan of the Massachusetts Health Connector for pointing out that the Obama Administration has suddenly switched terminology: health insurance exchanges are now health insurance marketplaces. I think it’s a great idea, which is why I wrote a blog post on this very topic on Friday. The Hill (Obama officials ditch ‘exchanges’ in rebranding of healthcare reform law) covers the story.

However, the Hill has a weird angle on this. The article heavily features an anti-ObamaCare activist, Dean Clancy who says:

“They could call them motherhood or apple pie, but it wouldn’t change our feelings about them… We’re encouraged that they’re showing signs of desperation. I think that it’s too late in the game to try to start calling this something different. And [we’re] not going to spend a lot of effort fighting over a word.”

Clancy’s website is called blockexchanges.com, so he may actually have more commitment to the word exchange than the Obama folks. Somehow blockmarketplaces.com just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (That domain is still available at this writing in case you want to grab it.) Blockexchanges also has some misleading information on its home page:

“Remember, without the state exchanges, ObamaCare cannot function.”

Actually, the federal government will step in if the states don’t.

Personally, I don’t sense desperation but rather a gradual wising up about what implementation will require. The term “marketplace” makes a good deal of sense for someone who is comparison shopping for health insurance. Here’s to more commonsense improvements as ObamaCare is rolled out.

David E. Williams is co-founder of MedPharma Partners LLC, strategy consultant in technology enabled health care services, pharma, biotech, and medical devices. Formerly with BCG and LEK. He writes regularly at Health Business Blog, where this post first appeared.

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6 Responses for “And With the Stroke of a Pen, Health Insurance Exchanges Become Health Insurance Marketplaces ….”

  1. Jardinero1 says:

    Marketplaces are venues where voluntary buyers and voluntary sellers meet to exchange goods. The defining characteristic of a marketplace is voluntary. Coercion and the use of fines backed up by the potential for state violence or loss of freedom(incarceration) are not an element of marketplaces.

  2. Peter1 says:

    “Thanks to David Kerrigan of the Massachusetts Health Connector for pointing out that the Obama Administration has suddenly switched terminology: health insurance exchanges are now health insurance marketplaces.”

    On January 22nd I wrote:
    “On “HealthCare.gov” it’s actually called a “Health Insurance Marketplace”.

    You didn’t have to bother David Kerrigan.

  3. Aurthur says:

    Blockexchanges also has some misleading information on its home page:
    “Remember, without the state exchanges, ObamaCare cannot function.”
    Actually, the federal government will step in if the states don’t.

    Mr. Williams, I find it hard to believe you do not understand what Mr. Clancey is saying. The bill that was passed and signed into law, intentionally and for a very specific purpose, excluded the federal government from providing subsidies. Only the States can provide subsidies under the law. No subsidies, no penalties, no mandates, and obamacare doesn’t work. You can call it an oversight or a scrivener’s error, but we all know that is a lie. The bill would not have passed if federal subsidies were included. So, please do not attempt to sell your crap (aka misleading information) here, or in an exchange, or a manipulated marketplace. It is deceitful and disgusting. Thanks.

    Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: “No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE.” Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory.
    Animal Farm

  4. Bob says:

    Arthur, et al- for a view that supports Mr. Williams, please read Timothy Jost’s article about why the case can be made for the federal premium subsidy to be included in a federal or federally facilitated exchange. Tim Jost is an attorney who writes at Seton Hall Law School’s Center of Health Care Law.

  5. Dean Clancy says:

    Whether a federally established exchange can provide the subsidies is controversial and is being litigated. The case to watch is Pruitt v. Sebelius. The state of Oklahoma contends, I think rightly, that the ObamaCare statute does not permit subsidies to flow through federally established exchange.

  6. Carepilot says:

    Exchange vs Marketplace. I agree, its all semantics but frankly I think it was good move to switch up the language. It just makes more sense to call it a marketplace. That’s the intention so hopefully the functionality will soon catch up.

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