KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Unlike The Federal Exchange, State Online Insurance Marketplaces Have Had More Luck Addressing Issues

News outlets report on how the exchanges are working and how consumers are responding in Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Hawaii, Minnesota and California.  

The Wall Street Journal: New State Health Exchanges Have Largely Fixed Glitches
New state-run health-insurance exchanges have largely fixed their technical problems, marking a sharp contrast with the federal government more than a week after the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act opened for business (Schatz, Dawsey, Dooren, 10/10).

The New York Times: Blue Cross Plans Jump To An Early Lead
On the first day that people could buy coverage under the federal health care law last week, the chief executive of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia had just learned that his company’s plans were the area’s least expensive available through the new state exchanges. "We were thrilled," said Daniel J. Hilferty, the nonprofit insurer’s chief executive (Abelson, 10/10).

The New York Times: In Florida, Opposition By The State And Snags In Signing Up On The Web
Be it gold, silver or bronze level, there are two ironclad requirements for buying health insurance in Florida on the federal online exchange: patience and persistence. … First the State Legislature roundly rejected the law, refusing to create a state insurance exchange and punting it to the federal government to run the new insurance market. It also rejected $51 billion in federal funds that was available over 10 years to expand Medicaid coverage for the state’s poor. As the day neared for consumers to enroll in insurance plans, state officials announced that so-called navigators — a group assigned to help people sign up — would be barred from state health offices just like all other outside groups. But blame this week shifted to the federal government (Alvarez, 10/10).

Health News Florida: HealthCare.Gov: Waiting, Hoping
Florida's online health insurance Marketplace has been open for business since Oct. 1. But more than a week later, people are still having trouble with, the website consumers use to shop for health plans (Watts, 10/10).

Kaiser Health News: Mississippi Consumers Try And Try Again To Use
Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Jeffrey Hess, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "In Mississippi, one of 34 states letting the federal government operate the online health insurance marketplace created by the health law, consumers continue to face long delays and other technical difficulties as they try to log on and shop for affordable coverage" (Hess, 10/11). Read the story.

The Associated Press: Hawaii Relaunching Obamacare Exchange After Not Selling Any Health Insurance Due To Software Problems
Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace is hoping to turn around a stalled start by providing plans and pricing to consumers by Oct. 15 — but there are no guarantees, its executive director said Wednesday. Coral Andrews, executive director of Hawaii Health Connector, told state lawmakers Wednesday that getting the marketplace running properly has been a fluid situation, with circumstances changing every day (10/10).

CQ HealthBeat: Hawaii Plans Exchange Restart On Oct. 15
The Aloha State’s health care exchange leaders have apologized to residents who flocked to its marketplace last week only to find that it wasn’t working and say they are determined to get the website fully up and open for business by Oct. 15 (10/10).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure Working To Reduce Help Center Wait Times
Callers to the help center for the state's new online insurance marketplace are waiting on hold for an average nine minutes, longer than originally projected, MNsure officials said today. This summer, MNsure officials said callers could expect to wait about two minutes and no more than five. But anyone who has tried the call center recently likely heard a recorded message about high call volume, followed by a bland instrumental track from soprano sax player Kenny G. MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said MNsure is making changes to the website in hopes of easing call volumes (Stawicki, 10/10).

The New York Times: Health Act Embraced In California
There are radio and television commercials galore, along with Twitter and Facebook posts and scores of highway billboards. There are armies of outreach workers who speak Spanish, Tagalog, Cambodian, Mandarin and Cantonese, all flocking to county fairs, farmers markets, street festivals and back-to-school nights across the state. There are even dinner parties in Latino neighborhoods designed to reach one family at a time (Medina, 10/10).

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