August 24, 2012: The California Health Benefit Exchange barrelled through important decisions Thursday about the new insurance marketplace pending for individuals and small businesses in 2014, but delayed action on the degree of employer and employee choice.
“We’ll continue to seek comments,” Peter Lee, executive director of the exchange, said after lengthy testimony from consumer advocates and industry representatives.
Exchange staff presented three options;
• Employer choice of tier and employee choice of plan would provide broad choice not currently available in the small employer market. The employer establishes a tier of coverage for employees and allows workers to select among available health plans within that tier. Employees have the choice of many plan types and insurers.
• Employers could select two insurers and two tiers; employees would pick from the offered plans and tiers.
• Employers choices the plan and employees choice the level of coverage among the tiers.
Exchange staff recommended the first two options, but encouraged discussion on the third.
The debate boils down to how choice may or may not affect the viability of the exchange and affordability of the coverage offered.
“Employee choice is the single biggest benefit and difference from the outside market,” said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the Small Business Majority. The first option provides any carrier in a tier, he said. The second, more choice per tier. The third, multiple tiers and one carrier. “Will that increase costs?” he posed.
Garry Maisel, CEO at Sacramento-based Western Health Advantage, expressed support for the first option,as the only one different from the current market.
“With all due respect, the current market is broken. That’s why we are here,” Maisel said.”Let the free market work — it works best when the employee has choice.”
Source: John & Rusty Report via Choice Admin