Report Finds That Health Exchange Insurance Purchases Are A Good Deal; Healthcare.gov Has New Section
A new PricewaterhouseCoopers report finds that the average premium on an exchange is lower than the average premium of an employer-sponsored health plan. Meanwhile, the federal health online marketplace has added a new section to allow consumers who have already signed up for insurance to report life changes. Finally, news outlets provide updates on state exchanges in California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland and Minnesota.
CQ HealthBeat: New Section On Healthcare.Gov Will Let Consumers Update Their Info
A long-delayed function on the health law’s federal enrollment website is expected to be operational next week, allowing consumers who have signed up for insurance to report life changes, such as marriage, according to insurance industry officials (Adams, 1/30).
Marketplace: Americans Who Have Bought Obamacare Are Getting A Good Deal
Over the past several months, some 3 million Americans have bought health insurance through a state or federal exchanges. According to a new report out this morning from PricewaterhouseCoopers, contrary to many initial concerns, consumers might actually be getting a pretty good deal. PWC’s Ceci Connolly says the average premium on an exchange is lower than the average premium of an employer-sponsored health plan, and that when the exchanges opened in October, there was concern these new products might be flimsy and expensive. “That’s one of the misperceptions out there. That somehow they are barebones or you are not really getting adequate medical insurance,” she says (Gorenstein, 1/30).
NBC News: Why Your Boss May Be Eyeing The Obamacare Exchanges
Premiums on the new government health exchanges are lower, across the board, than the average premium paid by the majority of Americans who have employer-based coverage, according to a new report released Thursday. This suggests that the Obamacare exchanges may be an appealing option for employers looking to provide enticing but affordable benefits to their workers, the team at PwC’s Health Research Institute said. "Employers today are frustrated by the cost and hassle of providing health insurance, so they are looking for an affordable alternative to keep their employees healthy,” said Ceci Connolly, managing director of PwC's Health Research Institute (Fox, 1/30).
Kaiser Health News: California Marketplace Among First to Post Customer Health Plan Ratings
Covered California assigned star ratings to the health plans based on member survey responses. The surveys were taken before the insurance marketplace opened, so they only compare plans that had a track record beforehand (Gorman, 1/30).
The Associated Press: State Health Exchange Costs Likely To Fall
The cost of running Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace is likely to fall below its original projection of $15 million annually because of low enrollment, its executive director told lawmakers Wednesday. Tom Matsuda of the Hawaii Health Connector said at a hearing that the exchange is working on a business plan that should be ready in two months (Eifling, 1/30).
The CT Mirror: Anthem Making Progress, But Some Customers Still Waiting
After nearly a month of customer frustration and monitoring from state regulators, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has made progress in getting health care coverage set up for its January customers, according to state officials. “I would say that in the last couple of days, I feel like there really has been a logjam broken,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling said Wednesday. Some customers who signed up for insurance that was scheduled to start Jan. 1 are still waiting for proof that they have coverage. But Dowling said the company has been making progress in getting insurance ID cards mailed to members.
The Baltimore Sun: Hearings On Md. Health Exchange Woes Put Off
The head of the state Senate committee that is leading an inquiry into what wrong with Maryland's health exchange is planning to turn the probe over to state auditors — who would not release a report until summer at the earliest. Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, who chairs the Finance Committee, said this week that the panel is unlikely to hold further hearings on the matter this legislative session (Cox and Wheeler, 1/30).
The Star Tribune: Minnesota Legislative Auditor To Probe MNsure Launch
With Minnesotans still experiencing problems with the MNsure website, the state’s legislative auditor said Monday he is planning a full-throttle investigation, starting with the vendors that received tens of millions of dollars to build the state’s new health insurance exchange. Jim Nobles said the first phase will focus on whether the IT contractors delivered on their promises and whether the state kept a close enough eye on their work. “It’s fine to question the performance of the contractor,” Nobles said in an interview. “We’ll do that. But one of the worst things you can do in managing these contracts is to stand on the sidelines with the hope that things will go well. You’ve got to be actively managing and verifying” (Crosby, 1/30).
Meanwhile, on the Medicaid expansion front -
The Associated Press: Democrats Propose Medicaid Expansion
House and Senate Democrats on Thursday proposed legislation that would expand Medicaid coverage in Alaska after Gov. Sean Parnell last year refused calls to do so. The proposal would extend eligibility to those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. State participation would be contingent upon the federal government paying at least 90 percent of costs, the lowest level to which they are currently expected to fall (1/30).