KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Experts Worry About Other Trouble Spots With Health Law Marketplaces

Politico reports that other steps in the online enrollment process, including computing subsidies and transferring signup information to insurers may also have bugs. The Associated Press reports that some insiders predicted the problems well before the website launch, while The Washington Post notes that paper applications are increasingly popular because of the problems.

Politico: Tech Experts Wary Of More Obamacare Glitches
The glitch-plagued Obamacare rollout might be just the beginning: A series of potential technology problems could thwart the Obama administration’s goal of getting 7 million people enrolled in the new exchanges by the end of March. Millions of people have already encountered error messages, delays, crashes and stuck accounts. Technology experts and Obamacare backers worry that each step ahead in the process — filling out applications, checking on subsidies and selecting a health insurance plan — creates a potential technology choke point. And that doesn’t even count any additional chaos when people try to use their new health insurance come January (Norman and Millman, 10/12).

The New York Times: From the Start, Signs Of Trouble At Health Portal
For the past 12 days, a system costing more than $400 million and billed as a one-stop click-and-go hub for citizens seeking health insurance has thwarted the efforts of millions to simply log in. The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange. Even some supporters of the Affordable Care Act worry that the flaws in the system, if not quickly fixed, could threaten the fiscal health of the insurance initiative, which depends on throngs of customers to spread the risk and keep prices low (Pear, LaFraniere and Austin, 10/12).

The Associated Press: Insiders Saw Health Insurance Marketplaces Woes Coming
In March, Henry Chao, the chief digital architect for the Obama administration’s new online insurance marketplace, told industry executives that he was deeply worried about the website’s debut. “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience,” he told them. Two weeks after the rollout, few would say his hopes were realized (10/13).

The Washington Post: Federal Health Exchange Sending Confusing Enrollment Information To Insurers
The federal health-care exchange that opened a dozen days ago is marred by snags beyond the widely publicized computer gridlock that has thwarted Americans trying to buy a health plan. Even when consumers have been able to sign up, insurers sometimes can’t tell who their new customers are because of a separate set of computer defects (Goldstein and Cha, 10/11).

The Washington Post: Glitches On Health-Care Sites Prompt Increased Interest In Paper Applications
The dead-tree version of health insurance enrollment is turning out to be surprisingly popular. Unable to use new government insurance Web sites that have been plagued by technological problems, those tasked with helping the uninsured sign up for health coverage are bypassing the sites altogether, relying instead on old-fashioned paper applications (Sun and Somashekhar, 10/12).

Meanwhile, news outlets report that it's hard to gauge enrollment so far because of lack of data - 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obamacare A Success So Far? Lack Of Enrollment Numbers From Many States Makes It Hard To Say
After more than a week in action, is a key feature of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul a success or a bust? Judging by the dearth of data, it’s virtually impossible to say. The federal government has released no comprehensive data on how many people have enrolled for health insurance using federally run exchanges, the online marketplaces being used in 36 states for residents to compare and buy insurance. In the 14 states running their own exchanges, the situation isn’t much better (10/11).

CBS News: How Many Americans Have Signed Up For Obamacare?
A new poll by The Wall Street Journal shows more Americans think the president's health care law is a good idea. Last month, 31 percent said they liked it; now it's 38 percent. The health care exchanges went online on October 1 with long delays when millions of Americans tried to shop the federal website. But how many are actually buying policies? More than 8 million people have visited the website designed for consumers in 36 states to buy health insurance. But the White House is not ready to say how many have successfully chosen a health plan until next month. "We'll have a monthly release of numbers," said David Simas, the White House senior advisor on healthcare. "At some point in November, you'll be able to see and go through the data (and see) how many people enrolled and break it out however you'd like (Werner, 10/11)."

The Hill: HHS Touts Visits To ObamaCare Site, But Mum On Enrollment
ObamaCare's enrollment portal garnered 14.6 million unique visits in its first 10 days, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said Friday. HHS touted improvements to the troubled site and said that fixes over the last two weeks have substantially reduced wait times and allowed more users to shop for coverage (Viebeck, 10/11).

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