A recent report (click here to read it) from the Commonwealth Fund identifies California, Colorado and Maryland as among the first states to enact legislation establishing health insurance exchanges called for in the in the Affordable Care Act!
Exchanges are new web-based marketplaces that will be set up in each state for buying health insurance, although some states will make use of a federally-run exchange instead. Through the exchanges, individuals and small businesses will have choices of different plans and be provided with information to help them understand their options.
In Colorado, the National MS Society, in collaboration with the Chronic Care Collaborative, is actively engaged in the development of its health insurance exchange to help get more Coloradans health coverage! Society chapters in other states are working with their coalition partners and activists on planning for their exchanges as well.
Among the key areas of discussion are:
1) Coverage: Federal law requires that insurance plans available through state exchanges provide coverage in ten areas called “essential health benefits” to help ensure comprehensive care and services.
2) Navigators: Health benefits exchanges will also include navigators to provide direct services to consumers. It is vital that these representatives be easily accessible and knowledgeable about health insurance plans and other resources for consumers.
3) Funding: Federal grants are currently funding development of the state exchanges. However this support is not ongoing, and exchanges must find alternate sources of funding to operate in future years.
The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange (abbreviated as COHBE) was created by bipartisan legislation in 2011. COHBE is an independent organization not managed by the state government, but responsible for the creation and implementation of the exchange. You can find more details about COHBE from the Colorado Department of Insurance here.
Colorado is a national leader when it comes to the implementation of its exchange. COHBE has successfully applied for the appropriate federal grants and it has developed workgroups to address the policy and technical decisions necessary for creating the exchange.