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Online Health Insurance Marketplaces

Apr 18, 2014
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Smith a Catalyst to Better Performing State-Run Exchanges 

States’ health insurance exchanges recovered faster than the federal government's health insurance marketplace after both stumbled out of the gate last fall.

Smith's Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) has helped prepare several of these states for this health care milestone of virtual marketplaces, in which individuals and small businesses can shop for and purchase insurance plans.

Officials, board members and specialists from Maryland, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont have tapped into CHIDS’ expertise to design, use, operate and marketing their digital marketplaces.

"In 2012, we successfully launched a leadership program and hosted teams of senior executives and health care exchange board members for intensive teaching and debate of best practices for building and running these critically important organizations, says CHIDS Deputy Director Kenyon Crowley.

The state-based exchanges are able to customize their offerings to the unique needs and demographic and economic conditions within their respective states, whereas some states are using either the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov or a hybrid approach. 

CHIDS' support of health insurance exchanges is continuous. Led by Ritu Agarwal, the center’s founding director and dean’s chair of information systems, and Gordon Gao, CHIDS co-director and associate professor of information systems, researchers are studying issues affecting consumers’ ability to make informed health purchasing decisions. This includes understanding quality, cost and financial information available through the new exchanges and other online sources.

Another support staple is CHIDS' annual Workshop on Health IT and Economics. The summit, supported by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, delivers the latest research and is designed to inspire innovation and accelerate health care transformation at the intersection of health IT and economics. The 2013 program, in November in Washington, D.C., reviewed the recent launch of insurance exchanges, plus related trends, innovations, barriers, and facilitators to achieving a well-functioning marketplace ecosystem that empowers consumers and supports effective management.

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