KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Rates Released For Colorado’s Online Insurance Marketplace; MNsure Launches Paul Bunyan Ad Campaign

The Wall Street Journal explains to readers about the two types of health exchanges - run either by the state or federal government - which are scheduled to begin operating on Oct. 1. Other news outlets report on developments regarding these marketplaces in Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia.

The Wall Street Journal: Get Ready For Enrollment In Health Exchanges
In about six weeks, Americans will have a new kind of open enrollment to consider. Starting Oct. 1, people without health insurance can sign up for standardized coverage through new health-insurance marketplaces run either by their state, the federal government or a combination of the two—the centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Gerencher, 8/17).

Kaiser Health News: Taking A New Tack To Persuade 'Young Invincibles' To Buy Health Insurance
Robert Bauer is young, lean and healthy - just the kind of person the government wants to buy into its new online health insurance marketplaces. Bauer doesn't see the need. The 24 year old, a 2011 graduate of the University of Minnesota, works in organic farm fields three days a week, and prides himself on eating well. He's uninsured - health coverage just hasn't been part of his lifestyle. … While Bauer generally doesn't fear a health crisis, the people building insurance exchanges worry about Bauer and the millions of other healthy Americans whom they fear may simply opt out (Stawicki, 8/19).

MPRnews: Paul Bunyan And Babe The Blue Ox New Faces Of MNsure
The state is contracting with BBDO Proximity Minneapolis for the website's roughly $9 million marketing campaign. At the campaign's launch Sunday, BBDO creative director Brian Kroening said he wanted the advertising to be easy to understand, local, and upbeat. "We liked Paul and Babe because everybody seems to recognize them. They were easy to work with. ... The ball of twine's agent was harder," Kroening said (Shenoy, 8/18)

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange Aims For A Big Ad Splash
James Delles is about to become a fixation of the nation’s health care marketers…As summer winds down and the Oct. 1 launch of Minnesota’s new MNsure health care exchange draws near, the state is betting millions that a pair of venerable Minnesota icons can grab the attention of young people like Delles and persuade them to buy coverage (Crosby, 8/19).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Colorado Exchange Releases Health Insurance Rates
Colorado released its Obamacare insurance rates on Friday, joining 13 states and the District of Columbia in making rates public. The state earlier made the call to be a clearinghouse exchange, rather than an active purchaser, and so, it has approved all 242 health plans submitted for sale on its marketplace (Whitney, 8/19).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Rates Higher In Resort Areas, College Towns
People living in resort areas of Colorado will have to pay higher health insurance rates than those in other regions when plans start being sold through the state’s health exchange on Oct. 1. An average 40-year-old non-smoker living in a resort area who is buying a mid-level “silver” plan could be charged a base rate as high as $667 per month compared to the least expensive silver plan for a comparable 40-year-old in Greeley, whose base rate would be about $232 per month. … But, insurance companies aren’t even offering the platinum plans in resort areas. The base rates don’t tell the whole story. Many new buyers of health insurance will pay less than the base rates because they’ll qualify for federal tax rebates designed to make insurance more affordable (Kerwin McCrimmon, 8/16).

In related news -

Medpage Today: ACA’s Mandated Benefits Create Few Problems
Insurance plans are adapting well to the new benefit mandates under the Affordable Care Act and are able to meet tight federal and state filing deadlines, according to a study from the liberal Urban Institute. Furthermore, consumers are unlikely to see dramatic changes in their covered benefits and cost next year because states had their own benefit mandates in place before the ACA, the study released Wednesday found. In the study, researchers at the Urban Institute and at Georgetown University assessed experiences in five states -- Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia -- with meeting the development and regulatory requirements for the now mandated benefits. The work was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Pittman, 8/16).

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