KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Red State Residents Enrolling In Obamacare At Lower Rates

People in GOP-controlled states are signing up for coverage in the health law's exchanges at lower rates than those in blue states, reports the Associated Press. Meanwhile, news outlets offer snapshots of how signups are going in Montana, Wyoming, Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state.

The Associated Press: Republican States Lag In Health Care Coverage For Residents
Residents in some parts of the U.S. are signing up for health care coverage at a significantly greater rate than others through the new online insurance marketplaces now operating in every state. The discrepancy may trace back to the political leanings of their elected leaders (Lieb, 12/12).

The Montana Standard: Obamacare Signup: Anaconda Man's Saga Ends Happily 
After being notified he would lose his Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana insurance policy, Hoolahan set out to sign up for health insurance on Oct. 1. Like so many people across the nation, Hoolahan was met with issues on the glitchy website. ... Just when Hoolahan was becoming sure he'd have to get on blood pressure medication too, he had a breakthrough. ... Hoolahan said it took him half an hour to fill out the second application, and another half an hour to get confirmation of his new plan (12/12). 

The Associated Press: Insurance Companies Say Federal Site Functioning
The two health insurance companies offering coverage under the federal health care law in Wyoming say the website that people must use to enroll is working better and they're seeing a sharp increase in people registering. WINHealth and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming are the only two insurance companies offering coverage in Wyoming through the new federal health care exchange (Neary, 12/12).

The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Chief Says October Errors Affected 2,400 People 
At a forum in Washington Thursday, Kevin J. Counihan, CEO of Connecticut's health exchange, said he is considering marketing the exchange to other states as "an exchange in a box" that could replace the federal exchanges that more than 30 states are using. This is not as if Health Access CT has been completely error-free. Connecticut’s health exchange said Thursday that about 2,400 individuals who signed up for coverage in October who may have had a different plan than they thought they had bought (Radelat, 12/12).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Cancer Patient's Insurance Still On Hold
Back in October, Smith struggled to create an account because Colorado’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, had some IT glitches when it launched. A few days later, Smith filled out an extremely long Medicaid application, then had to wait 37 days to get a denial from Medicaid. She went ahead and picked a plan in November. Then Colorado’s floods forced Smith and her husband to move from Castle Rock to Denver. And now, the Connect for Health agents told her that changing her address is not a simple matter and that she may no longer qualify for the Kaiser plan she picked, even though her new home is less than a mile from one of Kaiser’s Denver medical offices (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/12).

The Seattle Times: State Insurance Exchange-Website Outages Create ‘A High Level Of Frustration’
The recent prolonged outages of the state health-insurance-exchange website have fueled a sense of concern and urgency that many consumers won’t have enough time to sign up for coverage that kicks in with the new year. Officials of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange, said Thursday that they have heard a lot of concern from Washington residents in recent days, especially after the four days of website outages last week and intermittent outages this week (Landa, 12/12).

And health insurance cooperatives in Oregon will postpone enrollment deadlines after problems with that state's exchange --

The Oregonian: Oregon’s Health Insurance Cooperatives Agree To Postpone Enrollment Deadlines 
The state's two new health insurance cooperatives have agreed to postpone key enrollment deadlines to ensure more Oregonians have coverage Jan. 1 through the state's troubled insurance exchange, their executives said. Oregon's Health Co-Op president and chief executive Dr. Ralph Prows said Thursday the insurer will accept initial premium payments for January coverage as late as Jan. 15. The nonprofit co-op also plans to accept enrollment information from Cover Oregon as late as Dec. 30, instead of Dec. 23 as originally planned, he said (Hunsberger, 12/12).

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