bswift Executives Take Part in Utah Health Exchange Symposium : bswift Press Release

Press Release

← View all press releases

bswift Executives Take Part in Utah Health Exchange Symposium

CHICAGO, IL — Friday, May 20th, 2011


Executives from bswift addressed 79 top policy officials from 30 states last week at a state health exchange symposium in Salt Lake City hosted by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and members of his Utah Health Exchange team. The officials came to learn how the state of Utah has built and operated its Health Exchange, one of the first operational exchanges in the country. Key private sector partners in the Utah Health Exchange, including bswift, the Exchange’s technology platform provider, also participated in the Symposium.

In his remarks, bswift Executive Vice President Raymond Seaver emphasized two critical factors in the development of efficient and viable health exchanges:
  1. Involvement of experienced private-sector partners who understand the administrative challenges and complexities of building an exchange; and
  2. Use of an employer-based exchange model, such as the Small Business Health Option (SHOP) exchange defined in the 2010 health care reform legislation, in addition to the widely discussed individual exchange model, i.e. the American Health Benefits Exchange (AHBE).
  “Shopping for health insurance on the Internet is much more complicated than buying a plane ticket or a hotel room,” Seaver explained, ”because there are myriad rules governing enrollment and eligibility that need to be built into the online exchange system. That’s why it’s so critical for state governments to partner with experts such as bswift rather than trying to build the technology themselves. What we’ve learned in Utah is that the user friendliness of the shopping experience will always be important, but there are numerous complex back-end processes and administrative functions that need to be worked out amongst multiple stakeholders – including employees, employers, brokers and carriers – in order to enable the consumer to shop and obtain coverage.”

In her remarks, Patty Conner, director of the Utah Health Exchange, stressed the advantages of leveraging the existing capabilities of private sector companies to launch and operate an exchange, both from an economic and technological perspective.

“The setup and administration of exchanges is a complex operation with many moving parts, so it’s a challenge to launch an exchange and get it right,” noted Conner. “It makes sense to take advantage of companies such as bswift that have core competencies and existing technology to deliver the necessary shopping, enrollment, eligibility and administrative functions. It also allowed Utah to bring an exchange to market more rapidly and at a lower cost than trying to re-invent the wheel internally within state government.”

Conner and other Utah officials also noted the importance of collaboration among states and experimentation within different states both to meet the federal requirements for a federally qualified health exchange as well as to build cost-effective solutions in a timely manner.

“Utah is a national model for other states who are interested in building their own exchanges, either to comply with new federal laws or as a way of making insurance more accessible,” noted Conner.

Seaver also stressed the importance of keeping employers in the game with a defined-contribution model so that the ample cost of health care can be shared among individuals, employers and the government rather than relying on government subsidies solely to fill the affordability gap for individuals. In addition, Seaver pointed out the advantage to small employers of being able to offer health insurance to employees as a means of competing with larger employers in attracting and retaining talent and driving economic growth.

“Utah’s defined-contribution model is proving effective in enabling employers to provide funding for health care, while transitioning ‘ownership’ of the health insurance purchase to consumers,” said Seaver. In the Utah model, employers give employees a specific amount of money to purchase health care insurance on the Utah Health Exchange and to choose from four carriers and more than 100 plans.

In its first five months since opening in January 2011, the Utah Health Exchange has already attracted 114 employer groups, a quarter of which had previously not offered health insurance to its employees. Given the positive feedback and increasing momentum within the broker and employer community, the Utah Health Exchange is expecting to continue a rapid growth trajectory, adding many new groups in the remainder of 2011 and beyond.

“As a key Utah Health Exchange technology partner, bswift is proud to support the launch of this model," says Rich Gallun, bswift CEO. “We foresee that most of our clients will eventually participate in health exchanges in one way or another, so we have a vested interest in helping them through this transitional period and in helping other states develop solutions that can be operationalized quickly and effectively to help their constituents."

About bswift
bswift is changing the world of benefits administration by combining deep expertise and a passion for technological innovation with a unique consumer-driven approach. Partnering with enterprises nationwide and serving millions of employees, bswift offers cloud-based technology and services for online enrollment, interactive decision support, ACA compliance reporting and employee engagement. bswift also provides access to consumerism, product and consulting solutions needed to build a benefits program specialized for both employers and employees alike. For more information about bswift, an Aetna company, visit www.bswift.com.

MEDIA CONTACT

Laura Field
312.961.5054
lfield@clearedgemarketing.com