KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Some States See Health Plan Enrollment Surge

While the balky federal website has made enrollment difficult for residents of 36 states, tens of thousands of consumers are signing up for coverage in places like California, Connecticut and Kentucky, which have functioning websites, reports the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, states and advocacy groups are tweaking their marketing. In Maryland, for instance, radio and TV ads encourage residents to call 211, rather than go to a website, to get coverage.

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Plan Enrollment Surges In Some States After Rocky Rollout
Despite the disastrous rollout of the federal government's healthcare website, enrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law. A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials (Levey, 11/18).

CQ HealthBeat: That’s Not Us, Folks: State Exchanges Scramble To Dodge Healthcare.Gov’s Bad Press
The botched rollout of the federal marketplace website is forcing states and advocacy groups to adjust their marketing strategies, even in areas where state-based insurance websites are working just fine (Adams, 11/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Once Considered A Leader, Oregon's Insurance Exchange Still Hasn’t Enrolled Anyone
With all the problems facing the rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, nowhere is the situation worse or more surprising than in Oregon, a progressive state that has enthusiastically embraced the federal law but has so far failed to enroll a single person in coverage through the state’s insurance exchange. Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon’s online enrollment system still isn’t ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live. The state has resorted to hiring or reassigning 400 people to process insurance applications by hand (11/18).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: 3 State Exchange Leaders Try To Get Good News Out
Democrats in states running their own exchanges are seeking to put a more positive spin on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, despite the mostly negative news coming out of Washington. "What we’re seeing is incredible momentum," Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said during a conference call for reporters held by Families USA on Monday. "We need to remind everyone that one-third of Americans are enrolling in state exchanges," he added. "We're showing that [the ACA] can and is working for Americans" (Gold, 11/18).

Los Angeles Times: California Health Exchange Is Hesitant To Extend Canceled Policies
California's health insurance exchange remained hesitant to embrace a controversial request from President Obama to extend canceled insurance policies for another year. The state exchange, called Covered California, said Monday that it won't decide until later this week whether 1 million policyholders with expiring policies can keep their coverage for 2014 (Terhune, 11/18).

The Seattle Times: Doctors, Hospitals Catch Goofs On State Insurance Exchange
The Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange has a feature on its website that allows consumers to see if particular doctors and hospitals are in a plan’s network of health-care providers…Hospitals and physician groups have been busy trying to catch the mistakes and tell the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder, to correct the errors (Landa, 11/18).

The Baltimore Sun: Work-Arounds Are Used To Get Consumers Health Care
Beginning Tuesday, radio and TV ads will encourage residents to call 211 and get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. With technical difficulties still frustrating efforts to enroll in health plans through online exchanges — and deadlines looming to enroll — health care advocates and state officials are looking for ways to work around the malfunctioning websites (Cohn, 11/18).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Colorado Health Sign-Ups Continue To Lag
Only 2,593 people signed up for private health insurance through Colorado’s exchange during the first half of November, a pace that will make it difficult for Colorado to reach a mid-level goal of 135,000 new customers by next year. In all, 6,001 Coloradans have bought private health plans since Colorado’s exchange opened on Oct. 1, according to new data that Connect for Health Colorado released [Monday] (Kerwin McCrimmon, 11/18).

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