Virginia firm to run state’s health-benefit exchange site

DENVER — The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, a nonprofit group creating an online place for Coloradans to shop for health insurance, has signed a license agreement with a software company in Virginia.

Under the $50,000-per-month agreement, Reston, Virginia-based hCentive will customize its existing online software sales platform for Colorado, said Myung Kim, a spokeswoman for Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. Exchange officials are negotiating with hCentive to sign a maintenance and production license agreement later this year, Kim said. She declined to give details of that agreement, citing ongoing negotiations.

The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange in Denver was created by the Colorado Legislature in response to the federal Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s controversial federal health-care reform law approved in 2010.

Under the federal law, all Americans will be required to carry health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2014. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Colorado health-insurance online shopping system is scheduled to open for business in October.

The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange currently is funded through federal grants. Two federal grants totaling $61 million were approved in 2012 to fund planning activities and buy technology services, according to a fact sheet from the exchange. State Legislature rules require the exchange to be self-financing in 2015.

An estimated 500,000 or more Coloradans are uninsured. New federal rules also offer rebates to low-income residents who buy health insurance. Residents who don’t buy health insurance after the law goes into effect will be penalized through tax returns.

hCentive is working with other states to provide similar software platforms for their health-insurance exchanges, Agarwala said. He declined to name the states.

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