Subcontractor Gives Preview of IT Infrastructure for Health benefit Exchange.

The subcontractor for the group designing the Information Technology infrastructure for Vermont’s health benefit exhange gave a preview of the user end.  The story appeared in an article posted at the Vermont Business Magazine website:

Legislators this week are getting their first peek at the state’s new health insurance marketplace: Vermont Health Connect.

In 2014 the health benefit exchange will become the government-mandated marketplace for purchasing health insurance. All Vermonters who purchase health insurance independently or through businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be required to buy plans on the exchange.

On Tuesday, Exeter Group Inc. representative Matthew Freeman unveiled the user end of the exchange. Exeter is a subcontractor for CGI, which is designing the information technology side of the state’s exchange for a base price of $36 million.

The software portal that Vermonters will use to access the exchange looks much like an online marketplace for buying plane tickets or renting a car, similar to Orbitz or Travelocity. But instead of purchasing travel items,Vermonters will purchase insurance plans based on six levels of coverage tailored by the state. Insurance companies will also sell choice plans on the exchange that meet state and federal regulations.

We still do not know the rates that will be charged by the insurers hoping to participate in Vermont’s Exchange, but we can at least keep an eye on the estimated $36 million base price for the information technology side of the exchange. Cost overruns on government projects are notorious.  One area to keep an eye on is the expected completion date:

After the meeting, Larson said the state is on track to complete the exchange by October 2013, when the feds mandate its opening.

“We have a product that really performs the basic functions of the exchange and now we can figure out how we want Vermonters to interact with that product,” said Larson. “That gives me confidence that we’re in the place we should be to get ready for Oct. 1.”

Democratic Rep. Mike Fisher, who chairs the House Health Care Committee, said the user interface appeared to be on the right track.

State officials are expressing confidence that this will all be ready by the federally mandated date of October 1st.  What if it isn’t?  How much of federal funding is tied to meeting such federal mandates?  Our state officials assured us earlier that FEMA had promised a specific level of funding to the state for the replacement of the Vermont State Hospital and Waterbury State Office Complex, even though FEMA officials argued that there were no “promises” made to the state.  The Times Argus pointed that out in their editorial of August 2, 2012 entitled “Wishful Thinking”: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20120802/OPINION01/708029933/1021  Are we to put any more stock in these current assurances?