What Was the Point of the Health Benefits Exchange, Again?


Back before President Obama and his fellow Democrats in the U.S. Congress and Senate decided that the nation needed more government involvement in its health care system, whether the people wanted it or not, and back before Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee decided he would implement a health benefits exchange by executive order because the people’s elected legislators had declined to do so, while a small group of unelected bureaucrats decided that the state would jump into ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion with both legs and without so much as a peep of public debate, back before these events were completed, I asked why a state like Rhode Island needed a government-run health insurance marketplace.

For most intents and purposes, the state had two health insurers, Blue Cross & Blue Shield and United. I forget the exact time line, but I’ll be generous and say that Tufts was kinda sorta on the scene, and I’ll even let government supporters claim welfare health care through Neighborhood, back then, as “insurance.”  Even so, how is it conceivably worth millions of dollars in expense every year to build and maintain an exchange with so few options?

Of course, the question answers itself:  The purpose of the expense must have been something other than the convenience of Rhode Islanders… something like imposing more government control of our lives and funneling more power and money for government insiders.  As United exits the exchange, HealthSource RI, that interpretation is only clearer:

Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI, is among public health exchanges that UnitedHealth will withdraw from, according to a spokeswoman for the exchange, Maria Tocco. 

On Monday, United notified the health insurance commissioner of its intention to leave the exchange’s individual and small-group markets, Tocco told The Providence Journal in an email. …

“… we do not see this largely impacting our customers,” she said.

HealthSource is already so non-viable as a self-standing operation that it requires both direct subsidies from taxpayers and fees imposed on all health plans, even those that have nothing to do with the exchange, in order to stay afloat.  How then can its employees brush off the fact that one of the two real providers on the exchange is pulling out of it?

Let’s ask this again:  What is really the purpose of HealthSource RI?

  • stuckinRI

    What’s the point? Is EXACTLY the question. With essentially only ONE provider does anyone see the need for an ‘exchange’ ? For what possible reason?
    Oh and by the way, the exchange website was so horrible that we ended going directly through the BCBCRI website to research our plan. Then called BCBSRI and actually talked to a human to make the final decision and set everything up.
    With United exciting Healthsource RI we can officially label the exchange a boondoggle.

  • D. S. Crockett

    The exchanged provided, and continues to provide, employment for those politically connected, period.