The trials and tribulations of Utah’s much-touted Health Exchange continued in December, with the announcement that yet another chief executive had quit, along with the admission that very few eligible employer groups had signed up for the exchange.
The Utah exchange differs from that of Massachusetts in that it currently focuses on coverage for small employers offering defined contribution plans, a policy that was hoped to demonstrate the effectiveness of such plans. However, so far enrollment has been far too low to test the merits of this approach.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported in late December that a new executive director had been appointed to head the exchange, which is administratively located in the Governor’s Office, making the third director in just over six months.
The Tribune went on to compare the expectations of State officials, who had anticipated enrolling 3,000 small employers with an estimated total of 40,000 employees, with the current reality. As of late December, with coverage scheduled to start on January 1, 2011, just 43 of the State’s estimated 50,000 small businesses had signed up and been determined eligible.
Back in September, when the Utah exchange started to accept coverage applications, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert was quoted as saying: “[the exchange] is quickly becoming a model for the rest of the nation when it comes to health care reform.”
Roger Collier was formerly CEO of a national health care consulting firm. His experience includes the design and implementation of innovative health care programs for HMOs, health insurers, and state and federal agencies. He is editor of Health Care REFORM UPDATE.