In 18 days, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will open for business. Although initial glitches are likely, functionality of the exchanges will improve over time and October 1, 2013 will mark a new era in the way that individuals, families and small business shop, compare and buy health insurance. No longer will insurers be able to turn consumers away or charge them more based on a preexisting medical condition and policies will have to cover a set of essential health benefits, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs and preventative care. Last week, in an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine, Henry J. Aaron, Senior Fellow at Brookings and I shared our thoughts on how exchanges, once are up and running, will be in a position to make decisions that will shape the organization, quality, and financing of U.S. health care. For example, the quantity and quality of information on the prices charged by different hospitals, physicians, and other providers and the availability of data on the quality of care are improving. In the future, exchanges could advertise such information to help consumers make more informed choices or, more aggressively, could require plans to offer incentives for people to use high-quality, low-cost health care services and providers.
This Sunday, September 15 at 9:15 eastern, Henry and I will join Paul Harris of “American Weekend” to discuss the many opportunities that exchanges will have to promote a competitive health insurance market and play a role in reshaping the health care delivery system. Hope that you can take the time to listen in on the conversation!
Editor’s Note: Kevin Lucia and Henry Aaron serve together on the Board of D.C. Health Link, D.C.’s health benefit exchange.