Pa. insurance department seeks input on exchanges

    The Pennsylvania Insurance Department said it wants to make a recommendation by this fall to Gov. Tom Corbett regarding state insurance exchanges–whether it should run an exchange or hand that authority over to the federal government.

    It is seeking public input on the issue online and at a public forum Thursday in King of Prussia.

    The department is looking for input on three different questions.

    “No.1 would be establishment, should it be state run or federally run,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fox. “No. 2 would be oversight, how would that work and who should operate it. And No. 3 would be the functionality” of the website.

    The insurance exchange will be an online store where individuals and small businesses can shop for insurance. The federal health-care law mandates an exchange be available in each state by 2014.

    Antoinette Kraus from the Pennsylvania Health Access Coalition, which is focusing on the formation of the exchanges as a major policy priority, said whoever ends up in charge, she would like to see them have enough regulatory power to make sure only quality insurance plans end up in the exchange.

    “There’s this idea that if we just let everyone in, there will be more choice, but if you look at it kind of like a flea-market approach, if you’re at a flea market, it doesn’t mean that all of the choices you have a quality,” Kraus said.

    That means no super high-deductibles, co-pays or out-of-network fees, Kraus said.

    She said her group is also pushing for a regulatory body to represent consumers’ interests well.

    The forum will be in Crowne Plaza Liberty Convention Center in King of Prussia from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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