Enrollment centers help New Mexico exchange reach more consumers

Enrollment centers set up around the state were a key to providing free assistance to both new enrollees and those looking for a new health insurance carrier on New Mexico's state-run exchange, according to an interview with CEO Amy Dowd.

New Mexico's state exchange, beWellnm, last year opened a successful enrollment center in Albuquerque and rolled out similar centers throughout the state thhis year, Dowd said in the interview with Healthcare Dive. The exchange, one of only 17 state-run marketplaces in the country, focused on one-to-one contact with individuals during the enrollment period that just ended Jan. 31.

A major focus for beWellnm this year was on retaining enrollment. A plan that served half of its enrollees, which was provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, was discontinued in 2016 when the state declined to approve its proposed rates. That left between 15,000 and 17,000 individuals scrambling to find new coverage, Dowd said. Last October, beWellnm went across the state to meet with consumers whose plan was discontinued and worked with agents and brokers to help them find a new plan.

"We also learned we have to sell the proposition of having insurance," she said. "It's not a given people want insurance. We have to help individuals understand they can get preventive care free of charge."

Building good relationships with insurers and ensuring their participation has also been a focus at beWellnm, she said. Representatives from health insurers sit on the board of directors and participate in workgroups and stakeholder groups. 

Participation in state-run exchanges has remained stable in 2016, in part because some states have encouraged competition by establishing marketplace participation rules, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. 

Yet there are also signs of trouble for all of the exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act. For example, UnitedHealth is currently re-evaluating its participation on the exchanges because of mounting financial losses.

To learn more:
- read the interview