Rhode Island’s exchange trusted consumers and it worked

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Exchanges across the country had to decide last year whether to require current members to return this year and choose a health plan or automatically re-enroll them in their old plan if they don’t choose to switch. A federal study found that 70% of consumers would save money if they switched. But there was general concern among the experts that many wouldn’t come back and would lose coverage. Both the federal Healthcare.gov and CT’s exchanges decided to default people back into their old plan, sometimes with much higher premiums, if they didn’t affirmatively switch. Rhode Island’s exchange, however, trusted consumers to come back and re-evaluate the best fit for them – 78% did, and many saved a lot. Only 40% of HealthCare.gov consumers returned to shop. There is also evidence that plan switching causes health plans to offer better value plans to keep customers. Rhode Island has a history of successfully trusting consumers to manage their own affairs.  A NY Times article explores the exchange enrollment assumptions that drove the different decisions, and how Rhode Island turned out to be right to trust consumers.