KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Most Uninsured Unaware Of Tax Credits, Survey Finds

More than two-thirds of uninsured Americans don't know they might be eligible for financial assistance to buy health coverage and therefore haven't visited new online marketplaces, according to a survey of the uninsured released Thursday by Enroll America, a nonprofit with close ties to the Obama administration. Meanwhile, media outlets report on developments in Oregon, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

McClatchy: Most Uninsured Unaware Of Cost Breaks For Obamacare
Obamacare supporters say nonstop news coverage of’s early technical problems has hurt efforts to inform the uninsured about financial assistance that can help them purchase marketplace health coverage. With less than three months before the Affordable Care Act’s six-month open enrollment period ends on March 31, a whopping 69 percent of uninsured Americans don’t know about the tax credits and other assistance that will make coverage more affordable, according to a new survey of the uninsured released Thursday by Enroll America, a national coalition working on behalf of Obamacare. That helps explain why 68 percent of survey respondents haven’t visited their state marketplace or, the federal exchange portal that serves 36 states. They simply don’t believe they can afford coverage (Pugh, 1/9).

The Hill: Most Uninsured People Haven’t Visited O-Care Site, Survey Finds
A strong majority of uninsured adults lack basic knowledge about the Affordable Care Act and haven’t visited an Obamacare exchange yet, according to a poll released Thursday. The survey from Enroll America, a nonprofit with close ties to the Obama administration that is aiming to sign people up, found seven out of 10 uninsured people in the United States haven’t visited an ObamaCare online exchange yet (Easley, 1/9).

The Associated Press: Some Find Insurers Have No Record Of Them
Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as millions of people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not (Murphy and Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/9). 

Reuters: Humana Says Mix Of Obamacare Enrollment Worse Than Expected
Health insurer Humana Inc. said on Thursday that it projected its enrollment mix in private plans through the exchanges created by President Barack Obama's healthcare law will be "more adverse than previously expected." Humana attributed the enrollment trend to regulatory changes allowing people to remain in previously existing plans not sold on the exchanges (1/9).

The Boston Globe: Outside Review Ordered For State’s Failed Insurance Website
An independent technology firm will review the state’s failed health insurance website and make recommendations about how to move forward in rebuilding a system that allows people to easily shop for and buy coverage online. That’s how the state’s old virtual insurance marketplace, created under a 2006 state law and run by the Massachusetts Health Connector, used to work. But the system was overhauled in October to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Since then, technical problems have frustrated consumers and required the state to process applications offline in order to prevent tens of thousands of people from losing coverage (Conaboy, 1/10).

The Oregonian: Despite Exchange Problems, Kitzhaber Defends Oregon's Coverage Expansion
In an Oct. 1 speech in Monterey, Calif., Gov. John Kitzhaber told an audience of health care officials that Oregon's landmark health exchange website went live without issue. "I told them the website was rolled out without a glitch," a rueful Kitzhaber said Thursday. Actually, the exchange site was in shambles. After $90 million paid to the state's primary IT contractor, the website failed to launch and has since become a major technological and political fiasco (Budnick, 1/9).

The Lund Report: Health Share Of Oregon Boasts 25,000 New Enrollees
Oregon's largest coordinated care organization expected to get 20,000 to 23,000 new members in the first year after the state's Medicaid expansion kicked in. Just days into the new year, chief operating officer Susan Kirchoff announced that it had already exceeded that projection (McCurdy, 1/8).

The CT Mirror: Obamacare Coverage Problems? Here's What You Need To Know
Nine days after health plans sold as part of the federal health law were slated to take effect, some state residents are still struggling to get their coverage set up. Here’s what you need to know about the payment deadlines, what to do if you need an insurance ID card, who to call if you’re having problems, what you can do if you need a prescription filled before you get your insurance information, and the deadlines to know if you’re still shopping for coverage (Becker, 1/9).

MinnPost: MNsure’s Rocky Rollout: It’s Blame-Game Time
MNsure’s bumpy rollout has moved into full blame-game mode. The vendors are blaming the state. Gov. Mark Dayton and state officials are blaming the private companies who built the faulty technology, and MNsure leaders are quick to point out that they weren’t around when controversial decisions were made (Nord, 1/9).

Minnesota Public Radio: Lawmakers Putting MNsure On The Hot Seat
The interim CEO and board chair of MNsure, the state's new online health insurance marketplace, faces a grilling about its troubled website on Thursday from Minnesota lawmakers. Scott Leitz goes before a Legislative Oversight Committee whose members include Republicans strongly opposed to MNsure's creation. And the hearing takes place with the online health insurance marketplace under fire from angry, frustrated consumers, an unhappy governor, and an increasingly critical legislative auditor (Stawicki, 1/9).

Minnesota Public Radio: Legislative Auditor: MNsure Oversight, Accountability 'Top Priority'
Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has laid out his plans for investigating the state's new online health insurance marketplace. In testimony to the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee on Thursday, Nobles said he plans at least two investigations into MNsure, and a third if the Legislature will let him. "This year is going to be the year of ... oversight and accountability (for MNsure)," he said. "We'll be doing a lot of other things as well. But it is the top priority” (Richert, 1/9).

The Star Tribune: Minnesota Lawmakers Take Their Swipes At MNsure
Minnesota legislators blasted the troubled MNsure website Thursday and railed against a lack of accountability over its continued woes. In their first opportunity to question leaders of the insurance exchange since it opened for business, the 10 members of the bipartisan MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee grilled agency executives about decisions last year to downgrade the participation of the lead technology contractor, which came to light only in recent days. Maximus Inc., a Reston, Va., data services firm that specializes in government projects, was initially awarded the job as general contractor under a $41 million federal grant that later grew to nearly $46 million. But that contract was amended last February, and MNsure took over management and responsibility for building its website and technical infrastructure, according to a document that Maximus provided to the committee (Crosby, 1/10).

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