IBM Smarter Cities Targets Maryland for Health Insurance System

IBM announced an agreement with the state of Maryland to deliver a new health insurance program to help citizens gain access to affordable health care.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) has announced that one of its Smarter Cities solutions will be used by the state of Maryland for its state-based health insurance exchange currently under development.

IBM said it will deliver the eligibility and enrollment capabilities the state of Maryland needs to enable its citizens to find high-quality, affordable health insurance.

Maryland has almost 6 million citizens, according to the latest U.S. Census data. In building the Maryland Health Connection, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will work with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and the Department of Human Resources to expand coverage and improve the quality of citizen health benefits. The IBM solution—including software, servers and storage—will support plan comparison, eligibility determination and benefit enrollment.

Maryland chose IBM for its ability to manage the unique requirements of government-administered social programs. With more than 3,000 social services processes and rules included, it allows agencies to quickly introduce new programs and supports federal guidelines for Medicaid and public assistance programs.

"Maryland Health Connection will bring affordable health insurance coverage within reach of all Marylanders, creating a transparent marketplace for consumers and small businesses—providing them with information they can trust and understand," Rebecca Pearce, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said in a statement. "We continue to work with stakeholders throughout the state to develop a health insurance exchange that builds on the strong systems already in place while developing new paths to expand access to health care coverage."

With the help of IBM, Marylanders will have a single point of access to evaluate eligibility for exchange plans, Medicaid and the Maryland Children's Health Program (MCHP), and to determine applicable tax credits. The solution enables Maryland to capture and store the data required to streamline the eligibility and verification process for citizens.

"IBM will support Maryland's goals by providing a health benefit exchange where citizens can manage all aspects of finding insurance, from determining eligibility and shopping for plans to calculating tax credits," said Craig Hayman, general manager for industry solutions at IBM, in a statement. "The solution Maryland is putting in place can also serve as a platform capable of supporting future modernization efforts."

Curam software, the key solution in the Maryland Health Connection, is part of IBM's offerings aimed at helping cities and governments from New York City to Zhenjiang, China, boost efficiency and provide better service to citizens. The IBM Power Systems servers and the IBM XIV Storage System paired with the software enhance the security of the solution, with state-of-the-art encryption capabilities built-in at the hardware level.

Amy Santenello, a product manager with IBM Curam software who joined IBM after its acquisition of Curam, said the core pieces of software used in the Maryland system were developed and in place at Curam prior to IBM acquiring the company. “But the thing that helped us in the market has been that broader story that IBM has to offer,” Santenello told eWEEK. “The thing customers like is that we are able to bring together all the things IBM has to offer – hardware, software and services.”

IBM's work with the State of Maryland adds to a series of IBM contract awards for the facilitation of other statewide health insurance exchanges, including the State of Minnesota.

“Maryland is an early adopter,” Santenello said. “They are very well-positioned to provide their citizens with affordable health insurance.”