Massachusetts Chooses hCentive for Health-Insurance Exchange

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Jon Kamp

Massachusetts will replace its failed online health-insurance exchange with another from a private company rather than shifting to the federally-run marketplace, a state health official said Friday.

The state has been scrambling to replace the old system after a problem-plagued enrollment period late last year. In June, it cut ties with the system's architect, CGI Group Inc.

Officials were moving toward two solutions simultaneously in hopes of being ready for the Nov. 15 open enrollment period: a system from private company hCentive Inc., which has been used in other states, or the federal website as a backup option.

The state has since determined the hCentive system will be ready in time, said Maydad Cohen, a special assistant to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick overseeing the health-site fix. But he also said the state can't rest easy given the tight deadline.

"We still have a lot of work in front of us, both technical and operational," Mr. Cohen said.

Under its own 2006 state law, Massachusetts already had comprehensive health coverage that blanketed about 97% of the population. But its systems required many technical changes to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act that was passed four years later.

One of the key problems has been determining whether people qualify for Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor, or subsidized coverage pegged to their income level.

The state has thus far put about 251,000 people on temporary Medicaid plans until they can complete an application through a new system, according to a spokesman for the Health Insurance Connector Authority, which runs the state exchange. Another 100,000 people are still on legacy, subsidized insurance plans that were supposed to be replaced by now.

Write to Jon Kamp at

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