KHN interviews Patty Conner, the director of the Utah Health Exchange, about building a successful exchange and the challenge of adapting it to meet federal certification requirements.
Q. The Utah Health Exchange has been called the conservative “bookend” of exchange options. What made this model a good one for Utah?
A. The problem that we identified was that our uninsured population was actually employed individuals, but they worked for small businesses. Most of our small business population was challenged in offering healthcare insurance to their employees, so we felt that was our number one priority. We built a market around that, and we refer to it as the "defined contribution" market.
In that defined contribution market we allowed more carriers to join the exchange rather than just have one choice through a small business option, allowing flexibility with the amount of money that an employer would contribute toward the health care plan, and then allowing consumers to actually take responsibility for picking their own plan. Whether it was a plan design, a carrier, or a price tag that drove their decision, they would have many options to choose from.