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Trenton – Many states are creating health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers, and New Jersey should follow their lead, according to Making the Grade, a new report by NJPIRG. Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better, more affordable options for coverage. Under the federal health reform law, each state will have an exchange up and running in 2014.
“After the passage of federal reform, many states are working to create these new marketplaces,” said Jen Kim, NJPIRG Advocate “With several strong examples already out there for how to create a pro-consumer exchange, New Jersey’s leaders should follow suit.”
New Jersey scored an “incomplete” in the new report, since they have not yet established an exchange. Maryland and Massachusetts were among those that received “A’s” for their exchanges.
“The ball is rolling in New Jersey,” said Kim, “but we can’t yet judge whether or not the final product will be a pro-consumer exchange.”
The report closely examines the exchanges that have so far been set up by states and rates them according to how accountable they will be to consumers and the public, how much they can do to lower premiums and improve the quality of care, how friendly they will be to consumers, and how stable they will be.
“Not all exchanges are created equal,” continued Kim. “That’s why we ranked state exchanges according to the criteria that will matter most to consumers, including whether the exchange will be protected from insurance industry influence, and if it will negotiate with insurers for better rates.”
Some of the most important policies to consider to make New Jersey’s exchange strong include:
· Giving it the power to leverage enrollee’s buying power to negotiate with insurers for higher-value, more affordable coverage.
· Barring insurers and other industry representatives from serving on the exchange board, so it will be more accountable to the public and to consumers.
· Making sure consumers will have an easier time shopping for coverage through easy-to-use tools and comparisons between plans.
“With only two years before our exchange needs to be open for business, our state is far from the finish line,” concluded Kim. “It’s time for our leaders to step up and make sure consumers get the high-quality coverage options they need.”
A few exchange bills have been introduced in the New Jersey legislature, including one passed by the Assembly earlier this year.
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NJPIRG, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit, consumer advocacy organization. For more information visit www.njpirg.org or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/njpirg and Twitter www.twitter.com/njpirg.
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