These grants give states additional resources and flexibility to invest in technology services and skills that they need to establish online exchanges, which must be operational by Jan. 1, 2014. The federal government has already provided more than $1 billion to assist with state insurance exchange development.
Developing state exchange websites presents complex technological considerations as the exchanges aggregate data from federal and state agencies as well as from health plans, consumers, and employers, noted Janice Young, program director for analyst firm IDC's health research.
"Building state insurance exchanges is one of the most significant new initiatives in healthcare insurance in recent decades. Exchanges support entirely new programs, processes, customers, information and data, much of which has yet to be clarified," Young said. "The integration issues can't be understated because a lot of information, including eligibility and financial data, needs to be available as individuals participate in these programs."
Several states have outlined how they intend to use their funds to bolster their technological capabilities. Iowa, for example, will use its $27 million grant to conduct focus groups and stakeholder outreach regarding user interface design and program development, and continue to plan and develop an integrated, automated eligibility system.