The Top 5 Reasons to Attend AHIP’s Exchange and Policy Conferences


It’s been awhile since I’ve attended an AHIP event; not because I don’t like them, more because the health plan sector has not been my focus of late.  That changed this year and I returned to the AHIP conference circuit by attending the exchange and policy conferences in Washington DC this week.  The shows were interesting…more interesting than I had expected actually.  AHIP ran them back to back and so I’ll comment on them independently.

Health Insurance Exchanges Forum

The exchange conference on Tuesday of this week had a number of good sessions, including one on the tax impacts of the ACA.  Seriously, a tax session was good?  Yes, actually.  It was full of relevant information presented by folks that understand that tax ranks #137th on the top 10 list of things you want to do with an hour of your life.

The Presenters

Mark Ciaramitaro from HRBlock (@HRBlock), Stan Dorn from Urban Institute Health Policy Center (@urbaninstitute) and Brian Haile (@Haile_Brian) from Tennessee Division of Health Care Finance & Administration

The Message 

There was SO MUCH good stuff in this session it’s hard to summarize.  With that said, I think the quote of the session and perhaps the show came from Brian Haile.  Here’s my tweet:

#makingtaxsexy again is like a mosquito at a nudist colony, I just don’t know where to start! – @Haile_Brian during #AHIPExchanges

If you’d like more, please check out AHIP’s hashtag for the show #AHIPExchanges.  I and several others captured the highlights for you there.

National Health Policy Conference

The first day of the policy conference was also very interesting.  I particularly enjoyed the session on Transforming the Prescription Drug Cost Paradigm.

The Presenters

John Bennett from Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (@CDPHP), Diane Holder from UPMC (@UPMCHealthPlan), Len Nichols (@LenMNichols) from Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics and Brad Wilson from BCBS North Carolina (@BCBSNC)

The Message 

This group rarely disappoints and this time was no exception.  Each speaker provided a well constructed and passionate argument highlighting the “immoral” trend we’re seeing from pharma regarding drug pricing.  John Bennett asked the question, “How can you justify a vile of diabetes medicine that cost $300 in 2010 now costing $1,500?”


As before, if you’d like more, please check out AHIP’s hashtag for the show #AHIPPolicy where I and several others summarized this event as well.

In order to deliver on the promise of the post – here’s the top 5 reasons why you should attend the AHIP Exchange/Policy conference:

  1. There’s a wide range of speakers including government leaders like Sylvia Burwell (@SecBurwell) Secretary of HHS.
  1. Strong attendance. While several said it was smaller than last year, there were still a good number of attendees.
  1. Diverse attendance. I met people from the Blues, ACO’s, regional health plans, solutions providers, policy makers and the like.
  1. Engaged attendance. Even the last session of the day had a full room and as a speaker myself, I know how hard it is for conference organizers to deliver an engaged audience.
  1. And the #1 reason? If you’re not engaging in the policy discussion, if you’re not staying abreast of the trends, you can’t complain about the outcomes and this show allowed me to do just that.

As an editorial note, if you’ve read this far you may be wondering two things.  First I posted this before the end of the show and second as such, I can’t comment on the second day.  This is of course true – it is not because I’m not attending or am not interested in day two, but rather more about my time commitments for the rest of the week.  I really wanted to get this out and share my positive impression of the two events in a timely fashion.  Thanks again for reading and as always, I welcome your comments, both positive and negative.