Monday, December 19, 2011

Health Benefits Exchanges: Balancing Competition and Choice

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot more discussion surrounding health benefits exchanges here in the Commonwealth and across the country… and more people asking me about my views on them.

UnitedHealthcare is committed to be an active partner in the reform and modernization of the health care system. I would like to share our initial thoughts on the development of exchanges – ones that seek to maximize choice and competition inside and outside the exchanges.

“In order to provide affordable choices, exchanges must be developed in a way that supports competition among health plans by balancing the need for national uniformity with state flexibility and employer/consumer demands, while promoting responsible consumer behavior. This can be accomplished by:

• Developing fair marketplaces that provide a level playing field for all health plans, such as by applying the same open enrollment period rules both inside and outside the exchange and ensuring that exchange governance policies are not politicized.

• Fostering consumer choice by allowing insurers to offer a variety of plans for consumers both inside and outside the exchange.

• Promoting consumer and health plan participation in exchanges, including allowing employees eligible to enroll in small business health exchanges to choose any health plan offering within a specific level of coverage set by the employer, and maintaining a separate risk pool from the individual market to encourage participation among health plans.

• Avoiding duplication of existing state regulatory functions such as rate review to reduce administrative redundancies and delays in product availability, and to ensure seamless consumer eligibility, verification and enrollment.

• Standardizing health plan certification to promote competition among plans, improved administrative efficiencies and predictable product offering choices for consumers.”

To read more about health care reform, visit the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization --

We look forward to engaging with you all in a robust discussion on exchanges and other reform measures as we look to provide access to high quality, affordable health care both here and around the country for all individuals.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season!

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