KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Snags Emerge Even In States Where Exchanges Are Working

Insurers are reporting behind-the-scenes technical glitches that could undermine Jan. 1 coverage. In addition, news outlets offer progress reports from California, Connecticut, North Carolina, Minnesota and Oregon.  

Politico: State Exchanges Hitting Data Snags, Too
Even in states where Obamacare enrollment is booming, insurance companies are running into significant behind-the-scenes technical glitches that could threaten Jan. 1 health coverage. Many of these 14 states and the District of Columbia have been eager to tout the success of their own exchanges compared with the bungled federal portal, but they now appear to be worrying about back-end problems similar to those afflicting (Cheney and Millman, 12/6).

Los Angeles Times: State Health Exchange Swamped With Enrollees
California's health exchange is struggling to keep pace with a surge of applicants who are encountering long waits and website problems as they try to meet a Dec. 23 deadline. In response to higher-than-expected demand, the Covered California exchange said it is adding staff and expanding its capacity to answer consumer calls. It received 17,000 calls in less than an hour Wednesday, more than it received in an entire day in recent weeks. The exchange is also trying to dig through a backlog of 25,000 paper applications filed in October and November (Terhune, 12/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Santa's Big Surprise -- A Health Insurance E-Card?
California's health insurance exchange Thursday urged holiday shoppers to think about giving young people "the gift of health." Some suggestions from Covered California: Help a young adult pay for coverage, or send an e-card with a personal message and information about the federal health care overhaul. There's also a website where family members can pledge to help get relatives coverage (12/5).

The CT Mirror: CT's Obamacare Exchange Applications Surging This Week
Application activity for the state's health insurance exchange has skyrocketed this week, with close to 1,000 people signing up for coverage each day. That compares to a previous peak of 3,544 enrollees for the entire week before Thanksgiving. "The surge is now," said Peter Van Loon, chief operating officer for the exchange, known as Access Health CT. He noted that the exchange's call center has been getting an average of 2,400 calls per day this week (Becker, 12/6).

Los Angeles Times: A Health Care Navigator In Unfriendly Waters
Rascoe is one of thousands of foot soldiers hired nationwide to sign Americans up for coverage under President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Her task is made all the more challenging because she works in one of the Republican-led states openly hostile to the act. The GOP-controlled Legislature ordered state health officials not to cooperate with the federal program. Many of the people in this rural swath of North Carolina -- despite being among the neediest potential beneficiaries of Obamacare -- remain skeptical and uninformed (Bennett, 12/6).

MinnPost: MNsure Officials Heartened By Latest Health-Insurance Sign-Up Data
MNsure officials said their latest statistics make them confident that enrollment will keep pace with their health insurance targets for the sign-up period that ends in March. Consumer interest in the state’s health exchange doubled -- and in some cases, more than doubled -- in most areas tracked since last month, according to data released Wednesday (Nord, 12/5).

In other news related to state health law policies --

The Oregonian: Oregon Violated Laws By Allowing Health Plans To Be Extended, According To Legislative Lawyers
The Oregon Legislature's lawyers think the state erred when it allowed insurers to extend health plans set to expire this year under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. More than 140,000 Oregonians faced Dec. 31 cancellations of their health insurance until Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali announced that insurers could extend those policies until the end of next year (Gaston, 12/5).

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