NM health exchange to launch its own platform

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s health insurance marketplace will replace the federal HealthCare.gov individual enrollment platform with a less expensive, state-based site for the 2021 benefit year.

The board of directors of beWellnm, New Mexico’s Health Insurance Exchange, voted unanimously Friday to transition to its own sign-up site, said Cheryl Gardner, beWellnm chief executive officer.

The organization is poised to become the second state in the nation after Nevada to move away from the federally run marketplace linked to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to a state-based operation.

The exchange said it paid the federal government 2 percent in premium payments, totaling about $5.4 million in 2018, to use its online platform. That will jump to 3 percent in 2019, or about $10.9 million, said Gardner.

She said using a commercial vendor makes better financial sense, enabling beWellnm to sign up participants at half the cost of using the federal system. It will also allow the state to collect enrollee data, to better focus its advertising efforts, reduce operating expenses and the costs of premiums, said Gardner.

The exchange will release a request for proposals early in 2019. “The new system won’t go live until 2020,” said Gardner. She said CMS still will have some “oversight” duties.

Nearly 49,000 residents are enrolled through the state’s health exchange portal, known as beWellnm. About 80 percent of those people receive federal subsidies. New Mexico depends heavily on Medicaid.

Nationwide, enrollment on HealthCare.gov, used by 39 states, was down to about 8.7 million enrollments from about 9.2 million in 2017.

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