Dennis Lum is vice president of channel strategy, sale operations and performance for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. His current areas of focus include broker strategy, broker development, and execution for health care reform and private exchanges, among other areas.
He began his career with Kaiser by managing the Proposal Development Department for Northern California. He previously spent five years with McKesson Corporation, where he managed a self-funded plan and negotiated service agreements with carriers and health plans. He also worked for Blue Cross of California as director of health care management services and the Contra Costa County Health Services Department as business manager and financial analyst.
Q. What is Kaiser Permanente’s position on the Affordable Care Act?
Mr. Lum: The rising cost of health care and a large uninsured population is a big and complicated problem. Kaiser Permanente’s position is that we must expand access to affordable insurance coverage through improving the efficiency and quality of care. We also believe that people should have a clear choice of health plans, and insurance companies should compete on the quality of services rather than their underwriting tactics to avoid risk.
The ACA has many provisions that support our view. The main discussion about the ACA has been on its insurance reform features and now on the introduction of the California state exchange, Covered California, in 2013. The exchange will be the key vehicle for expanding coverage, offering choice, and making quality transparent to consumers.
Q. How is the market preparing for the introduction of Covered California, the new state exchange?
Mr. Lum: The State of California took an early leadership role in starting the development of the exchange. Our insurance market is also very familiar with exchanges.
CaliforniaChoice, a private exchange, has been an important part of the small business market for many years. Many small businesses also bought insurance coverage through PacAdvantage, another California exchange that since closed.
Despite the early start and our state’s experience with exchanges, there’s a lot to do to by October 2013 when Covered California opens its doors to enroll people for January 2014 coverage. Covered California needs to put into place all the processes, people, and technology to help many thousands of people understand the cost and choices of different insurance plans.
Then Covered California and the health plans need to work together to enroll people, so that Kaiser Permanente and other health plans can issue and collect monthly premiums and provide services. There’s a tremendous amount of work that is happening right now to get ready.
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