KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Maryland Insurers Agree To Delay Deadline For Jan. 1 Enrollment

For consumers seeking coverage on the state's health exchange, Maryland's insurers will extend the enrollment deadline from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27. Rhode Island also plans to extend its deadline. Meanwhile, news outlets offer updates from Texas, Connecticut, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington.  

The Washington Post: Insurers Agree To Short Delay For January Enrollment Through Maryland Health Exchange
Consumers seeking to obtain coverage starting Jan. 1 through Maryland's online health insurance exchange will get a few more days to apply, Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday. O'Malley (D) said that all private insurers participating in the exchange, which has been riddled with technical glitches, have agreed to extend the enrollment deadline for January from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27 (Wagner, 12/17). 

The Baltimore Sun: All Maryland Health Exchange Insurers Agree To Extend Deadline
All insurers selling policies on the state's health care exchange have agreed to extend the enrollment deadline for coverage that begins Jan. 1, state officials said Tuesday. Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare and Evergreen Health Co-op on Tuesday joined CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the state's largest insurer, in agreeing to extend the deadline four days to Dec. 27 from Dec. 23 (Cohn and Cox, 12/17).

Reuters: Rhode Island, Maryland Extend State Obamacare Sign-Up Deadline
Rhode Island's new insurance marketplace said on Tuesday it will extend its deadline until the end of the year for consumers to sign up for private coverage plans under President Barack Obama's healthcare law and still get benefits on January 1. Medical insurance carriers participating in the Maryland Health Connection also agreed to extend the enrollment deadline to December 27 from December 23 to have coverage that begins on January 1, Governor Martin O'Malley's office said on its blog on Tuesday (12/17).

The Texas Tribune: In North Texas, ACA Navigators Under Scrutiny
For Martha Blaine, the 10 Affordable Care Act "navigators" who meet clients daily on behalf of the Community Council of Greater Dallas blend in with the rest of her staff. … The Community Council is one of several Texas organizations awarded a combined $11 million from the federal government to hire and train so-called navigators to help the uninsured seek insurance in the new online marketplace, which has been riddled with technical problems (Rocha, 12/18).

The CT Mirror: CT Insurance Exchange Enrollment Up More Than 50 Percent In Two Weeks
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is enrolling about 1,400 people a day and is on track to have 50,000 to 60,000 people signed up for health care coverage by the end of the year, an official said Tuesday. Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said about 20,000 people have signed up for private insurance plans through the marketplace, about 70 percent of whom will get federal financial assistance to discount their premiums. In addition, about 17,000 people have signed up for Medicaid coverage through the exchange, Madrak said (Becker, 12/17).

The San Jose Mercury News: Bay Area Health-Plan Enrollments Outpacing Much Of State
The Bay Area is outpacing much of the rest of California in the number of enrollees who have signed up for a plan on the state's health insurance exchange since it opened for business, experts say. Since Oct. 1, some 22,166 individuals in the Bay Area counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco have signed up for an insurance plan, according to new figures released Tuesday by Covered California. While the five counties have 16 percent of the state's population, they boast 20 percent of the exchange's total enrollment of 109,296 tallied by Nov. 30. An estimated 13 percent of those eligible for subsidies live in these five Bay Area counties (Seipel, 12/17).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure: Some May Need To Reapply
MNsure officials are telling about 1,000 health plan applicants that they need to sign into their accounts and re-apply for coverage in order to receive federal tax credits. The problem stems from earlier troubles MNsure had in calculating individual premium tax credits. It affects consumers who've applied for coverage but not enrolled and don't have a family member on a government health program such as Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare (Stawicki, 12/17).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Latest Obamacare Problems In State Involve Online Issues For Three Insurers
In the latest round of difficulties with Obamacare in Wisconsin, plans offered by at least three insurers temporarily disappeared from the online insurance marketplace last week. Before they came off the federal website for about a day, some of the plans from one company posted incorrect information about deductibles, according to the insurer. The issue occurred Dec. 11 and was fixed by the next day, though federal authorities have not explained what went wrong (Marley, 12/17).  

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Sen. Bennet Buys Insurance, Wants Exchange Improvements
Bennet, a Democrat from Denver, is among thousands of Coloradans who are rushing to beat a Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for health insurance so they’ll be covered come Jan. 1. Connect for Health Colorado CEO and Executive Director Patty Fontneau said she reached out to Bennet’s office after learning that he had waited a long time to have his phone call answered. "It's my understanding that he found the website and system to work well," Fontneau said, but added that she’s aware of the long hold times and is working to fix them (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/17).

The Seattle Times: Small Businesses Could Get Health Insurance Price Break
Small employers in Washington will now have a shot at a tax break that could cut their health insurance costs in half. Next year, small businesses that meet certain requirements and sign up for coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, could apply for tax credits that would pay for up to 50 percent of their insurance premiums for employees (Stiffler, 12/17).

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