Utah gets approval for dual-model exchange

State is the only one in the country offering the model

Utah is set to become the only state in the country with a dual-model health insurance exchange, which will be split into two parts that will be run separately by Utah and federal officials.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services approved the unique exchange model, allowing the state to continue operating its small business exchange, called Avenue H, which was already in place before the reform law was passed. HHS will implement the federally-facilitated exchange for individuals shopping for insurance in Utah, the Associated Press reported.

The two exchanges will operate completely independently of each other, including providing their own navigators and certifying health plans for each online marketplace, reported LifeHealthPro.

To make the split possible, HHS is working on a new rule that, after it's proposed and finalized, would amend the existing regulations, according to a letter from HHS's Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen.

What's more, Cohen said that the new rule would allow "similarly situated states" as Utah to possibly institute a dual-model exchange.

"The only way this was going to work was if we were granted flexibility," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. "Fortunately for all, HHS proved to be flexible, concurring with everything we proposed to be able to operate an exchange that meets the needs of Utah residents."

To learn more:
- here's the HHS letter and Herbert's statement
- see the LifeHealthPro article
- check out the Associated Press article

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