Insurance Exchange Board meeting notes

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The CT Health Insurance Exchange Board met last week – not much happened. Small business owner, Kevin Galvin, and a consumer who has struggled with health care and insurance access gave very moving public comment to start the meeting. There were lots of updates but no actual substantive information. The committee reports were interesting – somewhat different than reports from advocates who attended them. There was an acknowledgement from the SHOP committee that they need to engage small business owners on the committee; they are going to work on that. They also recognize that the measure of their success should be whether more CT small businesses offer benefits rather than enrollment in the SHOP exchange. MA found that while small business enrollment in their Connector has lagged, more small businesses are finding affordable, decent coverage options and offering benefits to their employees. The SHOP exchange could serve as a competitive catalyst to improve offerings in the entire market. There was discussion about having CBIA run the SHOP exchange as well. The Qualified Health Plan Committee is struggling with defining the essential health benefit package and whether to include all the state mandates. There was discussion about the health benefits offered to employees of the exchange; Board members felt strongly that, as soon as the exchange is operational, employees should get their health benefits there, as will members of Congress. Mintz & Hoke continues their efforts to solicit the best ways to sell the exchange to consumers and small business. They are not collecting input for the exchange to use in designing their system but were asked for the feedback they have gotten so far. Their answers were 1) consumers are confused and uncertain, 2) benefit choices must be kept simple, choosing insurance is intimidating, and 3) they are targeting two populations – families (with mainly women making health decisions) and young invincibles. Upon questioning, they agreed with Vicki Veltri’s experience, matching ours, that the most salient fact about consumers is that they are very distrustful of both insurance and of government. The Exchange crosses both issue areas.