KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In State-Run Exchanges, Last Minute Rush To Enroll In Coverage

States who run their own health insurance exchanges are trying to cope with people attempting to enroll before the deadline to get coverage that would begin Jan. 1.   

Politico: Health Enrollment Deadlines Flexing Again In Several States
New York and Massachusetts are following the federal health exchange’s lead and extending their sign-up deadlines for coverage starting Jan. 1, those programs’ directors announced Monday afternoon. Other state exchanges, including the ones in California, Washington state and the District of Columbia, are offering general flexibility for individuals who started but couldn’t complete their applications by the 11:59 p.m. Monday deadline. Residents there will still be guaranteed coverage starting Jan. 1 (Villacorta, 12/23).

Los Angeles Times: California Health Exchange Tops 400,000 Enrolled Prior To Deadline 
California's health insurance exchange said more than 400,000 people have signed up for health plans ahead of Monday's enrollment deadline as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Covered California exchange said the latest figures are based on preliminary data through Sunday (Terhune, 12/23).

The Wall Street Journal: California Health-Insurance Site Sees Rush At Finish Line 
Officials said Monday 77,000 people picked a private insurance plan between Friday and Sunday in California, one of 14 states running its own insurance marketplace. Those three days alone accounted for nearly one-fifth of the roughly 400,000 people who have enrolled in private coverage so far, according to state figures. A similar number have been found eligible for Medicaid (Corbett Dooren, 12/23).

The Denver Post: Colorado Health Exchange Deluged With Last-Minute Insurance Buyers
Connect for Health Colorado was deluged by procrastinators Monday who decided to buy private insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act. ... As of Monday, 35,356 people had enrolled, or more than one-eighth of the uninsured people in Colorado (Olinger, 12/23).

The Baltimore Sun: Enrollments On Md. Health Exchange Jump, Though Site Still Glitchy
Gov. Martin O'Malley said Monday that 42,589 people had signed up for insurance through the state's health exchange as of Dec. 21 — a jump of almost 13,000 people in a week — but the faster clip of sign-ups was temporarily stymied by more troubles with the website (Cohn, 12/23).

The Hill: Nearly 54,000 More New Yorkers Enroll In O-Care
Nearly 54,000 more New Yorkers enrolled in the state’s health insurance exchange in the last week, state officials said Monday, bringing the total to more than 188,000. At least 188,546 people have enrolled in the New York marketplace, and at least 421,949 people completed applications. ... It’s unclear how many New Yorkers enrolled through a qualified health plan versus qualifying for Medicaid (Shabad, 12/24).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Says It's Made Progress, But Many Still Face Gap In Insurance Jan. 1
Cover Oregon officials say they've made significant progress reducing their backlog of health-insurance applications, but many Oregonians will go without subsidized coverage Jan. 1 because their applications were deemed incomplete. The state's health insurance exchange, choked by technological breakdowns and processing delays, has determined more than 45,600 individuals eligible for private commercial insurance plans (Hunsberger, 12/23).

Fox News: States Lag Far Behind On Obamacare Enrollment
[Oregon's] insurance website failed spectacularly after the Oct. 1 launch. ... in another sign of the uncertainty, applicants began receiving robocalls warning them they should look elsewhere for coverage if they hadn't heard from the state by Monday, in order to get coverage by Jan. 1 (Doocy, 12/23).

The Boston Globe: State Extends Health Insurance Deadline
Monday had been the deadline to apply for coverage to start Jan. 1. People were scrambling to meet it. The call center was overwhelmed, and the website was working even more slowly than normal because of high volume, Massachusetts Health Connector spokesman Jason Lefferts said Monday (Conaboy, 12/24).

WBUR: State Delays Health Connector Enrollment To Dec. 31
The deadline applies to people applying for a plan for the first time or people with unsubsidized coverage that is expiring Dec. 31, and who need new plans starting Jan. 1 to avoid a gap in coverage. Administration officials noted that enrollments ahead of the 2008 individual mandate were made up until Dec. 31, 2007 (Metzger, 12/23).

The Star Tribune: Sign-Up 'Navigators' Are Helping To Ease Mnsure Headaches
Soothing saxophone tones filled the conference room at Portico Healthnet in St. Paul [Minn.] on a recent morning — not from the PA system, but from the speaker of a mobile phone on hold with MNsure. “Your total wait time may be in excess of 30 minutes,” said the message. “We apologize for any inconvenience …” Chuckles filled the room, but the delay was no laughing matter (Olson, 12/23).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure Offers Tips For Frustrated Consumers
Minnesotans this week have been waiting an hour, on average, to get help navigating MNsure, the state's new online insurance marketplace. Hoping to ease that pressure, MNsure officials are offering consumers tips to avoid getting stuck when trying to apply for coverage through the website. The tips, including using an updated web browser or entering a middle initial instead of a full middle name, are based on the most frequent calls to the MNsure help center (Stawicki, 12/23).

The Star Tribune: MNsure Is Counting On The Young Signing Up, But Typical Enrollee Is 50
As the deadline nears for Minnesotans to purchase health insurance for 2014 on MNsure, an unsettling question remains: Will young, healthy people sign up on the online exchange and infuse plans with the premium revenues they need to pay for all the older, sicker people? Through November, half of the enrollees who bought private health plans on MNsure were between the ages of 51 to 64, even though that age group makes up only 21 percent of the state’s non-elderly population (Olson, 12/23).

The CT Mirror: Enrollment Brisk, Demand High At First Connecticut Obamacare Enrollment Deadline
"We're just exploding here today," Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, said Monday. As of 5 p.m. Monday, just over 59,100 people had signed up for health care coverage offered by the exchange, up from close to 56,000 Sunday night, Counihan said. The enrollment figures include people buying private insurance and those who will receive Medicaid (Levin Becker, 12/23).

And in two states with federally run exchanges:

The Associated Press: Deadlines Loom For Texans Seeking Health Care
In Dallas and Houston, hundreds of people trained to assist with enrollment worked the day before Christmas Eve, forgoing a vacation day that many others enjoyed. ... About 25 percent of Texas residents, or some 6 million people, lack health insurance. It is the highest rate in the nation. ... Many people who turned out in recent days were eager to enroll for coverage that would begin Jan. 1, said Mario Castillo, who is leading outreach and enrollment efforts in a 13-county region surrounding Houston for Enroll America (12/23).

The Associated Press: Ohio Groups See Steady Flow Of Health Care Signups
Groups helping to enroll Ohioans in health insurance plans say they are seeing a steady flow of people ... Counselors at one consumer advocacy group were stacked with appointments on Monday to help people find a health plan. Cathy Levine, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio said interest in coverage has picked up. But she said reaching prospective enrollees has been difficult without a big marketing campaign 1 (Sanner, 12/23).

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