Building a template for successful health exchanges

Editor’s Choice Award

Building a template for successful health exchanges

While the troubled debut of got most of the attention in 2013, many state-level health insurance exchanges got off to a rocky start as well.  Access Health CT, however, was an exception.  

Connecticut’s exchange went live that September—ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s deadline and five percent below budget.  And while millions of uninsured Americans struggled with exchanges that were slow, error-ridden or simply down, Connecticut residents enrolled by the tens of thousands—ultimately reducing the state’s uninsured rate by 50 percent. 

In the two years since, Access Health CT has continued to build on that initial success—streamlining the process for consumers and steadily adding new functionality.  The goal was not simply to maintain a functional government-run exchange, but to deliver an customer experience that exceeds the citizen expectations shaped by private-sector apps and online services. 

Access Health CT embraced mobile early, developing a robust API and an extensible mobile platform that integrates closely with its backend systems.  Connecticut consumers can not only access plan details from their mobile devices, but also screen themselves for benefit eligibility and even upload the documents needed to verify eligibility. 

And when the third open enrollment period commences on Nov. 1, Connecticut residents will be able to act on that research and actually enroll for insurance coverage through the Access Health CT mobile app.  User tests suggest that “mobile enroll” can reduce the average application time to as little as 10 minutes.

Access Health CT is not the only successful state exchange, of course, and the federal government’s has made great strides since its troubled debut.  What truly sets the Connecticut effort apart—and what earned it the Editor’s Choice Award—was the way the exchange was built with re-use and revision in mind.

The mobile platform in particular was developed from the ground up as a SaaS offering,  readily reconfigurable to be deployed for other state-based exchanges or even private-sector insurance sites.  that can be configured to provide a mobile platform and digital services to other state-based HIX, Private HIX, State Health and Human Services organizations and Insurance Carriers.

Such shareability doesn’t mean much if the underlying system can’t deliver, but Access Health CT has addressed back-end needs as well as citizen expectations.  The security and privacy controls, data standards and flexible reporting functions all help to ensure the system can help Connecticut deliver on this critical mission.  And other governments can do more than simply watch and learn.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of, Schneider also helped launch the political site in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times,, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


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