Reality #2: It’s Not Travelocity!
The Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange (MNHIX) has been compared to Travelocity. Proponents have called it a “marketplace.” However, one look at the diagram below – created by reading the State’s detailed contract with Maximus, Inc, which is building the Exchange -- makes it clear that this is not Travelocity. This is a government bureaucracy. It’s big. It’s intrusive. And it’s a state agency under federal control. The contract even calls it the “federal MNHIX.”
When you think about government agencies, the words simple, efficient, or transparent rarely come to mind. Before you are even allowed to buy insurance on the Exchange, the Federal Data Services Hub will gather data from you, from state agencies and from federal agencies to:
- verify your identity
- certify your citizenship
- check if you have a criminal history
- see if you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare
- verify that you have no access to employer-sponsored coverage
- check your income, family status and tax status.
This is not Travelocity. The Minnesota legislature are debating bills to create and implement the Exchange. Senate File 1, and its companion bill, House File 5, create the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace as a “board” of seven political appointees (SF 1, Sec. 4).
Interestingly, the bills do not mention the extensive IT (info tech) system being created between state agencies and the federal government. The IT system, not the board is the true exchange. The board meets quarterly to make sure the contracts, data flow and payments are made. The largest sections of the diagram below – government sharing of data on individuals -- are not explicitly spelled out in SF1/HF5. In fact, if you read the bills, you will not find the words “Internet,” “portal,” “website” “online” or the “Federal Data Services Hub.” Yet, the heart and soul of the Exchange is the data-sharing system.
The Minnesota Exchange diagram is complex on paper, but the goal of the government exchange is simple: to impose on Minnesota the intrusive controls of Obamacare.