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While information has been trickling out on the various state exchanges, Missouri has continued to stay quiet right up to the launch. As the state lawmakers, and then voters, voted rejected a state-run exchange, Missouri is among the many states that chose to leave it to the federal government to handle.

While efforts to publicize the exchange have faced strong opposition, there have been some initiatives put in place to help increase the public’s knowledge on the exchange.

•    Private organizations and individuals are conducting FAQ and Question & Answer Sessions on the exchange for individuals. For instance, FOX 2 recently aired a Q&A session that consisted of top industry experts and served as a platform for helping people clear their doubts about ACA. This one-hour special helped people learn more about the health reform that is going to impact their lives. Similarly, through the face of private organizations and nonprofit associations, the state will receive the required information.

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When the Idaho health insurance marketplace, Your Health Idaho, goes live on October 1, the state will be looking at two primary aspects that will decide the health and performance of the exchange in the years to come – Idaho insurance agents and the number of enrollments on the exchange. Although these two aspects are closely related, insurance agents takes precedence.

While insurance agents and brokers have been working in Idaho for a long time, a large number have concerns on the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring. Some of those factors are:

•    The commissions and incentives insurance agents received in the past will decrease substantially once Your Health Idaho goes live. For instance, Regence BlueShield of Idaho is going to decrease the plan commission from $12 to $9.

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From a general perspective, the health insurance marketplace is going to revolutionize health insurance. But it is going to be a tough path, especially when you consider the lack of general knowledge of the exchanges and the abundance of variables. At the same time, the outlook toward these marketplaces is generally positive. But, a closer look at Florida reveals that the state could be heading toward disruption.

Florida chose not to implement its own exchange and is relying to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). The main issue in Florida is that the top health insurance organizations and some businesses have not bought in to the marketplace. Why is this happening? Here are a few reasons why all is not well in Florida health insurance market.

•    Most businesses feel that government has been slow at implementing and spreading information about FFM.  Having more of an impact, though, is that the Affordable Care Act remains a lightning rod for politicians and residents.

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Contrary to the plan of reducing health insurance premiums through health insurance marketplaces, it seems that Mississippi residents who purchase health insurance off exchanges might encounter higher premiums than the current market average. Pundits are claiming that the rise in insurance premiums can be attributed to the fact that only two insurance carriers will be participating in the exchange.

As of now, 54,000 uninsured residents will have the choice of Humana and Magnolia Health for their insurance needs. Preliminary calculations are showing the average premium at $312 for Magnolia and $302 for Humana. In defense of this estimation, Mississippi officials have pointed out certain imperative aspects of these insurance premiums.

1)    Increased Coverage and Better Quality – In light of the higher premiums, officials state that the increased coverage and better quality of provided insurance is going to offset the higher premiums. In a nutshell, the premiums would still be competitive according to today’s market standards.

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As a part of the plan to have Maryland’s health insurance exchange, Maryland Health Connection, ready on October 1, they are reaching out to an important group that can help it sail through enrollments smoothly – health insurance brokers. With the deluge of new enrollments coming in soon, Maryland knows that brokers will be instrumental in taking some of the load off the state.

After October 1, Maryland expects 80,000 residents to use and enroll with the exchange. To meet the enrollment processing deadline of January 1, 2014, the state requires the help of brokers. As of now, nearly 900 brokers are registered with Maryland Health Connection, and Maryland hopes to increase the number of brokers. In an endeavor to attract more brokers, the state is hosting free training sessions and offering other benefits to brokers who sign up.

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As the deadline for health insurance marketplace implementation edges closer, states are planning contingency measures to tackle last minute hassles and challenges. Although each state’s plan of action differs, there is common theme– states want to know the primary concerns of residents, and how to address them in a cohesive and comprehensive way. In fact, the state of Massachusetts has conducted a statewide poll capturing popular concerns of residents.

The poll, conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society, randomly chose 417 adults from different areas of Massachusetts and conducted a telephone-based survey. The more prominent themes from the survey are listed below.

•    Most residents are worried about rising healthcare costs. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents felt that the expected rise in healthcare costs is the single most important issue facing healthcare in Massachusetts. In western and central Massachusetts, this number was a little lower at 67 percent. These regions saw the focus move a little toward access and quality of healthcare.

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Direct Enrollment gives payers the ability to offer consumers a one stop shop when shopping for health insurance plans – allowing them to check for subsidies and enroll without ever leaving the payer site.

Retaining Customers through Direct Enrollment

From the perspective of the insurance carriers, things look rosy. Insurance carriers can now focus on enhancing the online consumer experience as the impending problem of consumers jumping from payers sites to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) has been nullified. Naturally, a potential customer getting all the necessary information in a simplified, intuitive portal wouldn’t want to be redirected to another portal. With a streamlined enrollment process, fundamental subsidy application and ancillary plans bundled, the majority of consumers should not jump off the payer’s site.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003 & 2011, the healthcare sector created 2.67 million jobs. In comparison, rest of the U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs.

This post discusses how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is positively impacting the American economy, particularly in the healthcare sector, and why this trend will continue.

The Affordable Care Act seeks to make healthcare more affordable, streamlined and consumer-focused. However, the reforms have had another impact—job creation in the healthcare sector and related industries. As more people gain health insurance and patient care becomes more comprehensive, there will be a direct increase in demand, and jobs, across:
•    Real Estate: Clinical facilities
•    Manufacturing: Medical equipment, drugs
•    Industry personnel: Healthcare IT professionals

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The buzz around big data has brought health industry watchers and senior decision makers to an astute conclusion – big data is valuable and useful. The McKinsey Global Institute has unveiled that big data is capable of generating $300 billion in value every year, if tapped correctly. It can be a means to reduce the U.S. healthcare expenditure by about 8 percent—a huge number, considering the magnitude of the expenditure.

However, there are certain challenges associated with big data that are holding health insurance carriers from effectively utilizing it. Big data is:

•    Huge: The volume of big data is one of the biggest hurdles in its implementation and utilization. It has been estimated that big data is about 152 Exabytes, that’s billions of gigabytes. Furthermore, it is expected to grow exponentially to 40 times its current number by 2020.

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