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Microsoft Intros State Health Insurance Exchange Platform

The software giant is partnering with Extend on turnkey technology for the online insurance marketplaces required by healthcare reform.

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Microsoft has unveiled turnkey technology product offerings to help states roll out health insurance exchanges (HIEs). The healthcare reform legislation signed into law last year requires states to create, by 2014, these online marketplaces for uninsured and underinsured consumers to purchase affordable healthcare coverage.

The new Microsoft State Health Insurance Exchange, or HIX, includes core technology components from Microsoft as well as from partners, including Extend Health, which operates one of the country's largest supplemental Medicare insurance exchanges. Microsoft HIX provides an interoperable framework that connects new and existing government and private insurer systems.

The offering includes a consumer portal for states to provide individuals with an online marketplace to shop for insurance plans via the Web, as well as provide to the exchange "behind the scenes" functionality, such as eligibility determination, financial services, plan enrollment, and administration, said Dave Meyers, chief technology strategist of health and human services in Microsoft's U.S. health and life sciences group.

For instance, during the eligibility determination process, the exchange can interface with existing federal or state government systems to check whether an individual is a citizen of the United States, qualifies for a state's Medicaid coverage, or is eligible for subsidized insurance based on income level, said Meyers.

The end-to-end HIX offering also includes "wizard" technologies provided by Extend, such as plan comparisons tools to that help consumers choose coverage that best meets their needs, said Jack Hersey, general manager of Microsoft's U.S. public sector, healthcare, and social services group. Also available for the exchange is call center support from Extend.

Pricing depends on the technology components needed by the states. "Many components on the backend are already owned [by potential state customers] and can be leveraged," Meyers said. That includes BizTalk Server 2010 and Microsoft SQL Server. Other key Microsoft technologies that are part of Microsoft HIX's foundation also include Windows Azure and Microsoft Lync Server 2010.

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