|By Winthrop Quigley, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
HSD expects up to 250,000 New Mexicans to be eligible to use the exchange between 2014 and 2020 and estimates that 55,000 uninsured will enroll in 2014.
Consumers who receive insurance from their employers, who receive federal or veterans health benefits, members of retirement health plans, and
The federal A ffordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires that all consumers have access to a web-based health insurance marketplace. States have a choice of organizing their own exchange or having the federal government set one up.
Friday is the deadline for states to notify federal officials if they intend to set up their own exchanges.
"We've been moving forward on a state-based exchange to keep more f lexibility in the hands of the state," New Mexico HSD communications director
Kennicott said a federal exchange would let the federal government choose what health insurance is available to
A he a lt h i n su r a nc e exchange allows small businesses and consumers to shop for insurance policies via the Internet. The policies must meet minimum coverage requirements.
The ACA allows states to organize compacts that would allow consumers in one state to purchase insurance on the exchange that is available in another state. New Mex ico has not decided whe t her t o join a compact.
The idea of e x c h a n g e s is to create c omp et it ion among plans, give consumers enough information to make intelligent choices and put the plans and consumers "on a level playing field," said
Cal i for nia, M innesota,
Some states, like
What it will do
Ingram said that at a minimum, an exchange:
Gives qualified plans an electronic space to offer their products.
Administers government subsidies available to lowincome consumers who buy a policy.
Helps consumers compare and understand the products being offered.
Helps insurers and brokers market to consumers.
Determines if shoppers using the exchange are qualified for subsidies or for public programs like
"In this version they have a computer system that allows people to look at products," Ingram said. "They have an online application you can easily fill out to apply for products." It's rather like
States can also "do a little bit more," she said.
If as a matter of policy a state is trying to reduce obesity, for example, it might require plans to offer fitness and dietary programs. A state might require coverage for Oriental medicine or traditional healers. Plans might be required to include Indian health systems in their networks of providers. A state that is trying to improve health care quality might require compensation programs that reward medical providers for meeting quality standards.