October is fast approaching, but this year, Halloween isn’t the only date that’s stirring up excitement – and fear of the unknown.
Oct. 1, 2013, will change the way millions of consumers purchase health insurance. The results could leave your CAH quaking – or quickly pulling ahead in the quality queue – if you’re prepared.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, every state must build a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) on its own, partner with one or more other states, or have the federal government build and run the insurance exchange for them. And the exchanges are scheduled to be up and running Oct. 1.
What’s a HIX?
Simply put, consumers will be able to compare rates and buy insurance from private healthcare providers who are competing for their business within a HIX. Many believe exchanges will improve the healthcare system in a number of ways, such as:
- Increasing choice and convenience: Multiple health insurance plans will be included in each exchange, making it easy to compare price and quality.
- Simplification through standardization: Each state’s exchange must offer four standardized insurance plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Plans offered by different insurance companies within the exchange must include identical levels of benefits for each of the four tiers of coverage.
- Economies of scale: It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands – even millions – of Americans will use a state’s exchange to purchase insurance over the phone or online.
Exciting stuff, wouldn’t you agree? So what are rural hospitals (and their big-city competitors) afraid of? Many unknowns still exist.
For example, some healthcare leaders question whether patients who buy insurance through a HIX will fully understand what is – or is not – covered by their plan. That could result in bad debt for hospitals, especially in the case of consumers who are moved off of government-subsidized programs.
There’s no crystal ball to determine if the HIX will be a nix or a fix for CAHs and other healthcare organizations. But there’s one definitive point I’d like to share.
I’ve worked with CAH leaders and marketing professionals to prepare for the changes that will propel all of us into a new era of healthcare. These hospitals aren’t waiting for change to direct their fate; they are taking steps now to effectively manage quality and cost of care. Plus, they’re making changes to direct their future success.
And I can tell you from personal experience – it’s working!
What is your organization doing right now to help prepare for these big changes? What information do you think you need to communicate to your patients?
Want, or need, to learn more about health insurance exchanges? Submit your questions by leaving a comment below or contacting me at email@example.com or 920-544-8102.