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While the Massachusetts Connector is the best-known state health insurance exchange, health insurance policies also have been available in Utah's exchange, known as Avenue H, since 2011.
But Avenue H differs in a key way in that there are no premium subsidies.
Avenue H is offered only to employers with up to 50 eligible full-time employees — those working at least 30 hours a week.
Rather than state-provided premium subsidies, Avenue H uses a defined contribution model in which employers allocate a flat amount of money for employees to use to purchase coverage from the three insurers that participate in the exchange: Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, SelectHealth Inc. and United Healthcare Services Inc.
If an employee selects a high-deductible health plan that costs less than the employer's contribution, the employee could, for example, put the difference in a health savings account and later withdraw HSA contributions to pay for uncovered health care expenses.
“This defined contribution model really gives more choice to all sides: Employers choose to contribute an amount that fits their overall budget, while employees shop for the health care option that best fits their family needs,” said a spokesman for Avenue H.
“So far, considering our 92% renewal rate, it seems like a win-win for everyone involved,” he added.
Currently, 335 employers obtain coverage through Avenue H to cover 2,840 employees and a total of 8,016 lives.
Despite increased costs and opposition to the health care reform law, the overwhelming majority of employers intend to keep providing health care coverage for their employees, according to a Business Insurance survey.