KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

More Numbers Expected This Week On October Health Law Enrollment

In related news, The New York Times reports that state and federal exchanges are using "happy talk" to market the new health coverage options available through the online insurance marketplaces, but they rarely mention the penalty. Other news outlets report on developments from Maryland, Oregon and Colorado.

Reuters: Early Obamacare Data To Signal How Many Still Waiting To Enroll
The Obama administration will release healthcare enrollment numbers for Obamacare's rocky October rollout this week that could be more important for what they fail to say, than for what they do. President Barack Obama's Democratic administration, which is under intense pressure from Republicans to release the data, has signaled that the total will be low after weeks of technical problems with the federal website, (Morgan, 11/10).

The New York Times: Talk Of Penalty Is Missing In Ads For Health Care
New York's health exchange slogan is "Today's the Day." Minnesota has enlisted Paul Bunyan. Oregon held a music contest, and California stresses the "peace of mind" that will come with insurance. The state and federal health insurance exchanges are using all manner of humor and happy talk to sell the Affordable Care Act’s products. But the one part of the new system that they are not quick to trumpet is the financial penalty that Americans will face if they fail to buy insurance (Hartocollis, 11/10).

St.Louis Post-Dispatch: As Federal Health Website Stalls, So Does Marketing
Marketing campaigns to promote the new health insurance exchanges hit a speed bump the size of a boulder last month. The problem-plagued launch of on Oct. 1 made it all but impossible for most people to sign up for insurance on the exchanges (Kulash, 11/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Maryland Delays Full Rollout of Health Website
Maryland officials decided Friday to delay the rollout of the small-business insurance exchange program until April so it can continue fixing  problems with, its new online marketplace. Maryland launched the exchange on Oct. 1 for uninsured individuals, and had planned to open it to small companies in January (Corbett Dooren, 11/8).

Baltimore Sun: State Delays Small-Business Health Marketplace
Continued technical problems with the state's health insurance exchange have prompted another delay of the opening of a site for small businesses to buy health plans. Citing the problems on, which include sluggish navigation and error messages, state officials also postponed when the exchange would begin collecting payments from people who have already bought plans. The state exchange is where uninsured Marylanders — estimated to number 800,000 — can buy health plans under the Affordable Care Act (Walker, 11/8).

The Associated Press: Cover Oregon Clings To Grand Vision Despite Delays
Oregon officials set out to build one of the biggest and best in the nation — a model that other states would want to copy. But more than a month after Cover Oregon's online enrollment was supposed to launch, reality is lagging far behind Gov. John Kitzhaber's grand ideas. The online system still doesn't work, and the exchange has yet to enroll a single person in health insurance (Cooper, 11/10).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service):  Impatience Mounts For Immediate Exchange Fixes
Colorado’s health exchange needs to be fixed now, not next month or next year, say increasingly frustrated board members for Connect for Health Colorado. “It really had to be fixed yesterday,” said Nathan Wilkes, an IT expert and chair of the exchange board’s Operations Committee, who earlier this week called the mandatory Medicaid application that customers must fill out before they can move forward “onerous, odious and embarrassing” (McCrimmon, 11/8).  

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