KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House Officials Say 20% Won’t Be Able To Complete Process To Buy Insurance

In a progress report, Obama administration officials are predicting that, despite fixes that have been made, one in five people won't be able to buy health insurance via the online process. Still, the pace of enrollments has more than doubled, the New York Times reports.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: White House: 1 In 5 People Won’t Make It Through Health Exchange Website Despite Fixes
The White House says 20 percent of Americans won’t make it through the website to buy health insurance through new exchanges. The Obama administration is scrambling to fix the malfunctioning website by Nov. 30. But White House spokesman Jay Carney says there will still be 1 in 5 who will start the process online but won’t be able to purchase insurance (11/18).

USA Today: Fix Speeds Health Site’s Insurance Account Choices
Technicians working to repair the website have fixed most of the problems that stymied health insurance customers from creating personal accounts, the spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Monday. Those fixes mean the system can "easily" handle 20,000 to 25,000 people in the area of the site where they choose their insurance plans, said Julie Bataille, the CMS spokeswoman. Bataille did not comment on the site's total capacity, although last week, the total capacity for all areas of the site was 20,000 to 25,000 people (Kennedy, 11/18).

New York Times: Pace Of Enrollments On Health Site Accelerates
The pace of enrollment in health plans through the troubled federal insurance marketplace has nearly doubled since the end of October as software engineers have resolved some 200 of the more than 600 initial defects that had rendered the site all but unusable, according to people familiar with the repair effort. As of mid-November, the number of enrollees, which the Obama administration defines as people who have selected a marketplace plan, was more than 50,000 — up from 27,000 in the entire month of October but still a fraction of the number the administration once hoped for (Shear, 11/19).

Meanwhile, in related news -

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: How Much Did Cost? (Part 2)
At the hearing, held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Powner repeated the $600 million figure several times. He made clear he was speaking about all IT funding for the health care exchanges, including what was spent at the Internal Revenue Service. One lawmaker lauded him as the “$600 million man” and several other lawmakers, including Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), cited the number as well. The Fact Checker contacted Powner and asked how he came up with this figure, and he shipped us a document that he said appears on the federal government’s IT Dashboard for the health-insurance exchanges. He also made it clear that he believes any cost-figure for the Web site should include back-end and front-end expenses necessary for it to run, such as creating the data hub (Kessler, 11/19).

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