Healthcare Business News
Karen Ignagni

Insurance exchanges need to be true marketplaces, AHIP says

By Rebecca Vesely
Posted: July 11, 2011 - 6:15 pm ET

The association representing the nation's health insurers said health insurance exchanges should be true marketplaces where competition can thrive, while at least one market analyst said exchanges still represent a “promising opportunity” for the sector.

The comments were in response to the much-anticipated proposed regulation released by HHS on Monday on state-based health insurance exchanges.

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Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges will be online clearinghouses where individuals and small businesses can purchase health coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014.

HHS touted the proposed rule as leaving flexibility up to the states. America's Health Insurance Plans, in a statement, applauded this approach but cautioned that the exchanges should supplement current avenues for purchasing health coverage, not supplant them. AHIP also said it is still reviewing the proposed rule.

“All health plans offering coverage in the new exchanges will be required to meet new quality and performance standards,” AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in a statement. “To enhance competition and preserve consumer choice, all health plans that meet these new standards should be allowed to offer coverage through the exchanges.”

Managed-care analysts at Oppenheimer, an equity research firm, said most insurers will likely participate, though because details will be left up to the states there is some uncertainty.

“This reg shows how this is going to be a very state-controlled initiative, which will determine the viability for the insurers,” said Michael Wiederhorn and colleagues in an investor note. “We believe this reg should continue to shore up some concerns that are out there regarding exchanges.”

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