Consumers and small businesses had a rare opportunity to share their concerns with CT’s health insurance exchange Friday. A standing room only crowd met with the exchange’s CEO, Kevin Counihan at a restaurant in Glastonbury. Christie Hager, HHS Regional Director, also attended. Comments focused on the lack of consumer and small business input to the exchange, inappropriate influence of insurance interests, and the exchange staff’s decision not to negotiate with insurers to get the best value for customers. Through negotiation, MA’s exchange has been able to keep the rate of premium increases to half what it is outside their exchange. However prices in Utah’s exchange, which does not negotiate with insurers as CT’s exchange is planning, are actually higher than prices outside the exchange. CT’s exchange is being set up by the state, with millions in federal grants, to help consumers get decent, affordable coverage and is expected to purchase on behalf of one in ten state residents. As of Jan. 1, 2014, everyone in CT will be required to have coverage. Residents who qualify for federal affordability subsidies will have to buy their insurance through the exchange. Check back at the CT Health Policy Project’s site soon for a brief on the benefits for CT consumers, promoting value and affordability, through negotiation on CT’s exchange.