Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

On the Third Hand: Exchange pilot

Opinion

One econ major. Three (or more) opinions.
One econ major. Three (or more) opinions.

First, I'm not coming to conclusions here, either way, about whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange program should exist or can possibly work.

Or, if it can work, can it work for six months or six years.

To me, it seems as if surviving six years would be an ambitious goal, but, who knows. It's a strange universe.

That said: I love happy endings. I truly hate to see people fail or be embarrassed. I'm biased toward wanting everyone I write about to live in a universe in which they succeed and live a life free from scary work-related calls and emails, let alone financial distress.

So, whatever happens to the Hawaii Health Connector as a marketplace for health insurance, I'd be happy to see the people working on it to get the enrollment website to work smoothly, and to at least get the attention of most of the consumers who would be candidates to use it.

As of last week, Hawaii was close to deciding to keep control of its glitch-plagued website in Hawaii hands and providing $1.5 million in financial support.

Then it hit me: Maybe Hawaii (and some of the other states with glitch-plagued enrollment systems), are going about this enrollment system improvement process all wrong. Especially Hawaii.

Why on earth would the government of Hawaii pay money for any fairly small tech project?

Why not call up HGTV and ask them to get the Property Brothers to work with the Discovery Fit & Health channel (and the Project Runway people?) to produce an exciting new reality television show: Exchange wars.

Encourage professional, academic and hacker teams from all over the world to come to a beautiful resort in Hawaii to compete to produce the best exchange enrollment and administration systems.

When the tech teams get tired, or while their work is in the boring coding phase, bring in Project Runway fashion designers to make the consumer-facing front ends look pretty.

The production company could pay prize money to the winner and offer the winner a chance to have a free exhibition hall booth at the next few meetings of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The show could feature appearances by deranged advisory panel hearing public commenters, fistfights between finance committee reps, and even harsh staring contests between board members and interim executive directors.

Of course, we'd see a huge clock ticking as the project development time ran out. Maybe we could let TV viewers pay $5 to call in and vote whether the producers should provide development time extensions.

If several teams produced great work, maybe the producers could add special "Hunger Games" episodes, where consultants would avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation by going into a virtual reality arena and dueling to the death (of their cell phone batteries).

On the one hand: The show might not capture the cinema verite drama of the Nevada Health Link board meeting videos.

On the other hand: A Discovery Fit & Health channel show would be easier to find than videos on the Nevada exchange board website.

On the third hand: If the Property Brothers were actually the hosts, maybe the brother who's good at sales can help round up customers while the project teams are coding (and the good looking brother is walking around hammering at exchange office drywall) and the QHPs can enroll, say, a few dozen more healthy members under the age of 55.

See also:

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