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Affordable Care Act state exchanges provide more than expected

  |   July 11, 2013 at 4:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- Many state-run health insurance exchanges will provide distinct plan choices exceeding the Affordable Care Act's minimum requirements, U.S. researchers say.

A Commonwealth Fund report found state-run health insurance exchanges will exceed federal quality-reporting requirements, offering small-business employees a choice of health plans that won't be available in states with federally run marketplaces until 2015.

The report's authors, Sarah Dash, Kevin Lucia, Katie Keith and Christine Monahan of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, said many state-run health insurance marketplaces plan to promote a seamless "one-stop shop" for consumers to enroll in coverage.

The report examined 17 states, along with the District of Columbia, that elected to run their own health insurance marketplaces. The marketplaces begin to enroll consumers on Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Insurance carriers may sell health plans at five different "metal tiers" of coverage in the insurance exchanges: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and a catastrophic plan for young adults and people who cannot find an affordable health plan.

In addition to allowing agents and brokers to sell coverage via the exchange, 13 states and the District of Columbia will have both in-person assistors and navigators using computers, the report found. The remaining states either plan to operate only a navigator program or are still finalizing their approach.

"The level of innovation many states have displayed in creating their health insurance marketplaces is an encouraging sign that states are working to ensure that consumers will be able to get affordable, comprehensive coverage in their state exchange," Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a statement.

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