Boston, MA, July 17, 2007.  A national consumer health advocacy group released a report today recommending key policy and regulatory elements to consider when states look to implement “Connectors,” or “Exchanges” as a way to improve and increase access to health care coverage.

As more and more states across the country consider a Connector, or an organized marketplace of health plan options, in their agendas to improve their state health care system, Community Catalyst urges attention to several internal and external factors that influence the success of such initiatives.

“A Connector alone will not increase health insurance coverage for the uninsured or underinsured in any state,” said Michael Miller, Director of Policy at Community Catalyst.  “However, with the right framework in place, Connectors can serve as a critical hub for expanding access to health insurance.”

Connectors encourage competition between insurers and transparency of benefit information as a way to reduce barriers to acquiring insurance coverage for everyone.  The concept of Connectors has existed in state-run purchasing pools since the 1990’s.  However, many models now exist, from the minimalist version, which is a consumer-driven market without any government regulation, to more robust Connector like the one recently implemented in Massachusetts, which provides health insurance to everyone statewide and has state oversight.

In the report, A Consumer Guide to Creating a Health Insurance Connector, Community Catalyst favors the more comprehensive model, yet cautions that a Connector cannot reduce the cost of health insurance on its own.  The group points to six specific elements that will help provide the base needed to build an effective Connector and to expand access to affordable health care coverage.

External of the Connector, a state’s health policies should:

  • Provide a strong base of public insurance;
  • Guarantee access to insurance to all; and
  • Limit insurers’ ability to vary premiums based on health, age or other factors.

Internally, the Connector should:

  • Offer standardized plans;
  • Subsidize premiums for lower-income people; and
  • Provide outreach and enrollment support.

Click here to view the full report.

About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system.  With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst has provided leadership and support to state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations working to change the health care system so it serves everyone – especially vulnerable members of society since 1997.  For more information, visit