Health insurance exchanges were a popular subject during a recent gathering of federal lawmakers and insurance officials this week in Washington, D.C. Exchanges have been growing in popularity throughout the nation, gaining support in some states while finding opposition in others. The overall aim of the exchange initiative is to present consumers with a way to find and purchase affordable insurance policies. Much of the effort concerning exchanges centers around the concept of affordability, but consumers are far more interested in understanding what they are buying than how much policies cost, according to Kevin Counihan, president of CHOICE Administrators Exchange Solutions.
During the meeting, Counihan illustrated the importance of simplicity in the health insurance exchange system. He posited that consumers were less likely to purchase coverage when they did not fully understand the terms of the policy. Counihan recommended that state lawmakers take steps in ensuring that the insurance companies participating in state-run exchange programs write policies in such a way that it would be easy for the average consumer to understand.
Variety was also a subject of discussion during the meeting. Insurers have shown eagerness to participate in the exchange program, but may be looking to inundate the system with a wide variety of products. Counihan notes that his research showed that consumers presented with an overwhelming number of options are less likely to participate in the system. According to Counihan, the most important factors for consumers when it comes to insurance are network, price, services, reputation and rankings.