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“Best of all, it’s portable,” she adds, “which encourages entrepreneurship.”
Several elements make the Utah Health Exchange unique. First is the collaboration between the broker community, the insurance companies and the healthcare providers. Another element is the transparency the Exchange provides. For example, each insurance carrier’s benefits, provider networks, facilities and prices are reported in the same manner, which makes it easier for consumers to make side-by-side comparisons of options and select between them.
Scalable and Seamless
Conner says it was a priority to use existing technology in developing the Utah Health Exchange, rather than create a huge bureaucracy to develop and administer it. Thus, the Exchange uses two technology vendors, Utah-based HealthEquity and Chicago-based bSwift.
“When Utah first started the Exchange, no one else was doing it. We have learned to be flexible and adapt to changes as they come along. The Exchange is agile,” she says, “but as we ramp up and add more employer groups, we need to be certain the technology is scalable and seamless. We are moving from 11 to hundreds to thousands of participating companies. We want the same ease of use for the thousands of companies that will soon be involved—we want our technology to be the least important thing a user has to worry about when shopping for health insurance.”
In addition to making the Exchange more scalable, future enhancements include making the Exchange a catch all for consumer information, to help consumers make the most informed decisions about their healthcare. Conner says the portal will include wellness and treatment information to educate consumers regarding how to best utilize their plans and best serve their families.
Cost and Quality
“We are also concerned about making additional inroads into the costs of healthcare,” adds Thurston. “We are concerned about what we can do to reduce overutilization, inefficiencies and misaligned incentives. We already have one of the best healthcare systems in the country, but we still want to work out the issues that drive up healthcare costs. Ultimately, the Exchange is the beginning of a process that will help stem the rising cost of healthcare.”
Utah is fortunate to be home to some of the best medical providers in the country, which include Intermountain Healthcare, MountainStar, the University of Utah Health Care system, Primary Children’s Hospital, the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital, and others. In fact, University of Utah Health Care was recently ranked best in the nation for quality and safety by the University Healthsystem Consortium—better than the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, UCLA Health System, Cedars-Sinai and many others.