The Business of Health Care

Priorities for States as Plans for HIXs Move Forward

Many states are in a dash to finalize plans for a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) following last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The scramble poses several questions – are Americans ready to participate in exchanges, and will states have enough vendor support to meet the deadlines?

Survey Shows HIX Knowledge Gap among Americans

A recent survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox asked if they were in need of health insurance, would they consider purchasing it through a HIX. Nearly half (46 percent) were not sure. Another 25 percent said they would not consider using an HIX, while 29 percent said yes.

This is interesting as HIXs are designed to create a more consumer-friendly experience, where people can shop and compare when choosing a health plan, much like finds the best travel fare. However, as consumers are reporting a hesitancy around participating in HIXs, there appears to be a disconnect between the consumer-friendly intent and the knowledge people have of the type of experience and benefits an HIX will bring. While it’s common for people to be unfamiliar with the benefits of new technology until they use it, there is a need for states to quickly fill the knowledge gap around exchanges to show consumers they will deliver the desired experience.

As a services partner, Xerox helps states to engage and educate citizens. Xerox has three decades of experience working with state-funded health care programs, like Medicaid and CHIP, to locate uninsured consumers, motivate enrollment, provide enrollment support and other activities to enhance public awareness. We know outreach is critical to the success of the exchanges and we provide states with the tools, experience and understanding of the type of consumer the exchanges must connect with.

States Seek Support to Finalize HIX Plans

Since learning that the deadlines originally outlined in the ACA will be upheld – states are required to have an HIX fully operational for October 2013 enrollments and January 2014 coverage effective dates – we’ve seen states moving through an accelerated decision making process. Many requests for proposals from states have been issued in the past several weeks, signaling a decision to move forward with a state-run exchange rather than defaulting to the federal option.

States in this situation are seeking vendor support in building, implementing and administering their exchange. The concern is that there are a limited number of vendors who have the expertise involved, who have built an exchange before and who have been keeping up with the preparation involved with offering an ACA-compliant solution.

Due to the limited amount of time before the deadlines, many states may choose not to work with a vendor who is building a solution from the ground up. What will really be attractive to states is a solution that is already built, and can be customized and configured for their state-specific insurance regulations. This option reduces implementation time so states can be confident the exchange will be fully operational in time for the deadlines.

Will Saunders is the group president of government healthcare solutions for Xerox Corporation.