Christine Ferguson, the director of the R.I. Health Benefits Exchange, is anxious to win over skeptics in the business community about the new health-insurance exchange.
The exchange will serve as a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to shop and buy health insurance beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. A primary goal of the exchange, according to Ferguson, is to make “prices more predictable and more affordable.” The exchange will have the capability, she believes, to act as a catalyst for innovation in the insurance industry as a way to leverage market share and work with insurance carriers to control steep price increases.
Ferguson will be looking to use the Providence Business News-sponsored summit focused on health care reform, to be held on March 28, from 8-11 a.m., at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick as a platform to further that message.
Over the course of the next several months, as the exchange prepares for its Oct. 1 launch date, Ferguson and staff will be working with businesses, associations, the chambers of commerce and others to answer questions and get them the information they need to feel comfortable with this new concept.
“If we do this right, not only will we be able to make health care more affordable, but we will also be able to foster competition in the insurance marketplace, improve choice for consumers and improve worker productivity by improving the health of all Rhode Islanders,” Ferguson said.
Beginning in the summer, the exchange plans to launch an aggressive public-outreach campaign, including both traditional media as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, according to Ferguson spokesman Ian Lang.
Joining Ferguson at the summit as panelists will be Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, R.I. Health Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan, Dr. G. Alan Kurose, president and CEO of Coastal Medical, Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, William E. O’Gara, a partner with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC, James Roosevelt, Jr., president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, and William P. Devereaux, a partner with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC.