KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Maine’s New Co-Op Plan Wins 80 Percent Of Market Share

In Maine, a new startup beats a well-known Blue Cross plan in the competition for enrollees, while enrollment in Oregon's exchange continues despite the website's troubles. The success of California's exchange, meanwhile, is marred by slow progress in reaching Latinos and young people.

Bloomberg/Bangor Daily News: Maine Company Among Insurance Startups Winning Share Of Obamacare Enrollees
In Maine, the insurer that has enrolled the most Affordable Care Act customers isn’t the state’s well-established Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, owned by WellPoint Inc. It’s WellPoint’s only rival: Maine Community Health Options, a startup that didn’t exist three years ago. The newcomer, funded primarily by taxpayer money lent under the U.S. health care law, has won about 80 percent of the market so far in Maine’s new insurance exchange, exceeding its own expectations, said Kevin Lewis, the chief executive officer (Wayne, 3/16).

The Oregonian: Small Businesses Can Bypass Troubled Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange To Get Tax Credits, Feds Say
The Obama administration announced Friday that small businesses can qualify for tax credits without going through the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange . The move is good news for small businesses in Oregon since the exchange's function for small businesses is on hold indefinitely. A similar change had already been made for the federal exchange used in most states, but now it applies to troubled state-based exchanges as well. There's a catch: small businesses must sign up for coverage equivalent to policies that would be sold on the exchange, subject to Affordable Care Act requirements. Also, Oregon has to apply for permission (Budnick, 3/14).

The Oregonian: Oregon Exchange's Private-Plan Enrollment Holds At Middle- Of-The-Pack Despite Tech Troubles
So how is the Oregon exchange -- with help from the Oregon Health Authority-- doing at enrolling people overall? ... In total private plan enrollment, Oregon ranked 7 of the 14 states and Washington. D.C. who set up their own exchanges, and 27 in the country (Budnick, 3/14).

The Star Tribune: PreferredOne Takes Early Lead In MNsure Insurance Sales
Amid the herky-jerky rollout of the MNsure exchange, one thing has become crystal clear: Price matters. PreferredOne, one of the state’s smallest insurance companies, is cleaning up against competitors in signing up new customers, mainly because it offers the lowest premium prices on MNsure — and in the nation. About six of every 10 Minnesotans shopping for private insurance on the new health exchange have enrolled in a PreferredOne health plan. That far outpaces longtime market leader Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which has signed up 24 percent of MNsure shoppers (Crosby, 3/15).

The Star Tribune: Health Beat: MNsure Ad No Harry And Louise
MNsure, the state’s new health insurance website, has replaced its comical TV ads featuring an accident-prone Paul Bunyan with an everyman campaign in which real Minnesotans extol the virtues of expanded coverage. The campaign evokes memories of “Harry and Louise,” the plain-spoken TV couple who discussed their concerns about President Clinton’s universal health care plan — and turned public sentiment against it in the mid-1990s. Of course, Harry and Louise were fictional, whereas the people featured by MNsure are real and explain how expanded coverage really helps them (Crosby, 3/15).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: California Marketplace Still Lags In Signing Up Latinos And Young Adults
With just a few weeks remaining before the March 31 enrollment deadline, California has signed up more than 923,000 people in its new insurance marketplace—more than a fifth of the national tally, officials announced Wednesday. But the state’s success story continues to be marred by slow progress in reaching Latinos and young people in general, both considered crucial to the success of Obamacare (Gorman, 3/14).

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