News Release

Maryland's Health Care Exchange on Track to Lower Costs for Consumers

Nationwide Study of New Insurance Marketplaces Grades Maryland an "A"
For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD – Maryland’s health insurance exchange has the potential to be a national leader in delivering better value for consumers, according to "Making the Grade," a new report by Maryland PIRG.  Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better, more affordable options for coverage.  Under the federal health reform law, each state will have an exchange up and running in 2014.

“After the passage of federal reform, many states are working to create these new marketplaces,” said Jenny Levin.  “Our state can be proud of acting quickly to create a strong, pro-consumer exchange.”

The report closely examines the exchanges that have so far been set up by states and rates them according to how accountable they will be to consumers and the public, how much they can do to lower premiums and improve the quality of care, how friendly they will be to consumers, and how stable they will be.

“Not all exchanges are created equal,” continued Levin.  “That’s why we ranked state exchanges according to the criteria that will matter most to consumers, including whether the exchange will be protected from insurance industry influence, and if it will negotiate with insurers for better rates.”

Maryland’s exchange earned a provisional A on the report’s scorecard, making it one of the strongest of those studied:

-- Maryland’s exchange will have the power to leverage enrollee’s buying power to negotiate with insurers for higher-value, more affordable coverage

-- Because insurers and other industry representatives are barred from serving on the exchange board, it will be more accountable to the public and to consumers.

-- Consumers will have an easier time shopping for coverage because the exchange will offer easy-to-use tools and comparisons between plans.
                                                                         
“Our state’s made a good start in creating a strong, pro-consumer exchange,” concluded Levin.  “Our leaders need to keep moving full-steam ahead so we can truly be a national leader.”

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