KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Oregon Struggles To Clear Health Insurance Exchange’s High-Tech Hurdle

Oregon's state-based health law online insurance exchange is still struggling in its quest to sign people up, and officials there are using paper applications to get the job done -- a time-consuming task. Exchanges also make news in Kentucky, California, Mississippi and Washington state.

Los Angeles Times: Oregon May Be In Over Its High-Tech Head In Obamacare Rollout
In Oregon, a state envied for its high tech, sign-ups under the new federal health care law have been anything but. About 400 newly hired workers in Salem are processing paper applications by the thousands for health insurance under President Obama's law. They review each 19-page application, calculate eligibility for tax subsidies, and then mail back a packet of each consumer's options -- which the customers must mail back to complete the sign-up process (Reston, 11/28).

Los Angeles Times: Stores Selling Obamacare Policies Popping Up Across California 
As shoppers hunt for holiday bargains this season, they may find something unusual for sale at the mall: Obamacare. With enrollment deadlines looming, California officials, insurance companies and agents are staking out retail space to sign up thousands of people as part of the Affordable Care Act. These sales tactics reflect how dramatically the health care law is changing the insurance industry (Terhune, 11/27).

Los Angeles Times: Kentucky Governor Sees Health Law As Chance To Heal An Ailing State
But leading one of the nation's poorest, sickest states, [Kentucky Gov. Steve] Beshear has improbably overseen one of the most successful rollouts of Obama's troubled health care overhaul and become, deep in his long public career, a hero to Democrats grasping to find a redeeming figure amid the political wreckage. He's an unlikely champion, not least because Kentucky's two U.S. senators are both implacable opponents of the program (Barabak, 11/28).

USA Today/The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: Two States, Different Experiences Under Health Care Law
For a 50-year-old nonsmoker in Mississippi's most populous county, the least expensive health plan in the federal insurance marketplace costs $385 a month, nearly 40% higher than its equivalent in Kentucky. There, the same person can find a mid-range, or Silver plan, for as little as $278 a month. ... Kentucky is the only state in the Southeast running its own health care marketplace. It has some of the region's least expensive plans, a Clarion-Ledger comparison found. "We would have been a whole lot better off" with a state-based exchange, said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who had led efforts to start one but ran into opposition from Gov. Phil Bryant (Le Coz, 12/1).

The Seattle Times: Many Health-Exchange Plans Exclude Top Hospitals From Coverage
When Bev Marcus began shopping recently for a health-insurance plan, she found one from Premera Blue Cross on Washington's online insurance exchange that seemed to offer good coverage at a reasonable price. Marcus assumed the individual Premera policy would include Swedish Medical Center’s main hospitals in Seattle, just like the Premera group plan she and her husband had in the past. … The answer startled her: None of the company's individual plans for 2014 include any of Swedish's three hospitals in Seattle or its campus in Issaquah (Ostrom and Landa, 11/30).

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