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Health Exchanges — A New Approach

Why don’t we think about the Exchanges as a place for people to choose their health care, not just their health insurance?

As the Exchanges are being designed, we have a great opportunity to rethink how to help people choose a physician for their care, but our current mindset may get in the way of developing innovative approaches.

Under the Affordable Care Act, each state is expected to establish “health benefit exchanges” for individuals and small employers in order to “facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans.”  This is consistent with the concept of health insurance exchanges that has been developed over many decades.  In this model – used by many large employers as well as existing exchanges such as CBIA’s Health Connections and the Massachusetts Health Connector – the individual consumer or employee is given a choice among several health insurers.

The consumers are given information about the quality, patient satisfaction, and provider networks of each insurer to help them choose the one that best meets their needs, and healthy competition among the health insurers is expected to drive improved value for consumers.  The consumer makes this choice upon initial enrollment and annually thereafter.  Once the consumer has chosen an insurer, the second step is to choose a provider from the list of providers with which the insurers has contracts.  It is seen as a two-step process: (1) choose an insurer, and (2) choose a provider.Continue reading…

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