Former head of Massachusetts health exchange says it’s better to offer fewer, well-defined plans than set general criteria

With  Kentucky stakeholders discussing their options to set up a state-run health insurance exchange — something Gov. Steve Beshear said last week he intends to do if the Affordable Care Act is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — research shows the fewer plans offered in the exchange, the better.

An article in Health Affairs says officials should follow the lead Massachusetts’ health-reform system when creating their own exchanges. “A hands-on exchange with the power to set standards on top of the federal health-care law will help prevent consumers from being ‘overwhelmed’ by the process of buying insurance,” reports Sam Baker for The Hill‘s global affairs blog.

The Health Affairs article’s lead author, Rosemarie Day, is a former deputy director of the Massachusetts exchange. She said consumers prefer choosing from “a handful of carefully vetted, clearly described health-care plans,” Baker reports. The model used in Utah to allow any plan that meets criteria to be featured in the exchange is less popular, the paper found, but was more popular among conservatives.

“Findings from consumer research emphasized the value of limiting insurance plan choices on the exchange,” the analysis states. “Specifically, early focus groups showed that consumers wanted four to six carrier options at ‘low, medium and high’ benefit levels.” (Read more)

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