KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Marketplace Under Fire For Not Providing Quality Ratings For Plans

News outlets look at a variety of issues that the state-run exchanges are facing.

Los Angeles Times: Lack Of Quality Ratings On Covered California Site Is Criticized
California's insurance exchange came under fire for its plan to withhold quality ratings of health plans until late 2015 while thousands of consumers shop for coverage under the federal healthcare law. The state exchange, Covered California, said Tuesday that it had reliable ratings on only four of the 12 participating health insurers primarily because their networks of doctors and hospitals have changed so much for new policies available next year (Terhune, 10/22).

Los Angeles Times: Selling Healthcare: Colorado Uses Beer Kegs, Golf Clubs And Bros
Most of the sales pitches being made for the new national healthcare plan have been along the lines of California’s earnest effort, using pictures of cherubic children in toy cars with taglines like "Preexisting conditions won't stop your kids anymore." Not so everywhere. In Colorado, the sales job is the province of, among others, "Rob, Zach and Sam, bros for life." They star in social media ads for Colorado's healthcare plan with the presumed detritus of bro life: beer kegs, those ubiquitous red beer cups, errant golf clubs (Decker, 10/22).

The CT Mirror: Obama Misspeaks About Connecticut Health Exchange
Obama was right in that nearly a third of the applicants in Connecticut's exchange who registered from the first day the exchange was open, Oct. 1, through Oct 15 (29 percent) were younger than 35. But more than 65 percent of those young applicants were signed up in Connecticut's Medicaid program and the Children's Health Insurance Program, another government-run health care plan for low-income families included in the state's HUSKY program. They did not "get a good deal at low cost" from private insurers in the exchange or help the exchange's  private insurers with their risk pools. In fact, according to information provided by Access Health CT at a board meeting last week, the age group with the most applicants during the first two weeks of operation were aged 55-64, the least desirable demographic for insurers (Radelat and Becker, 10/22).

The CT Mirror: Obamacare Challenge: Convincing The Uninsured Insurance Is Worth The Price
At Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange, the most common feedback in the early days of enrollment was, "It's too expensive. I can't afford it," chief operating officer Peter Van Loon said. "Price is the big one, and people don't like the price, which is kind of what we expected," Van Loon told a committee of the exchange's board earlier this month. Will those unhappy about the prices decide to seek exemptions or pay the penalty? Or will they ultimately decide having insurance is worth it and buy into the system? (Becker, 10/22).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Congressman Fights Sky-High Rates As Ski Town Signups Stall
Health insurance rates are so high in Colorado's mountain resort areas that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis plans to seek waivers from the federal government so people who skip buying insurance in 2014 won't face financial penalties. "We will be encouraging a waiver. It will be difficult for Summit County residents to become insured. For the vast majority, it's too high a price to pay," said Polis, D-Boulder. Health coverage guides working to enroll Summit County residents in new health plans through Colorado’s health exchange have been deeply disappointed. They have not enrolled a single new client since Colorado’s health exchange launched on Oct. 1 (Kerwin McCrimmon, 10/23).

Minnesota Public Radio: Dayton Talks MNsure, Mining And Light Rail Before Heading To Mayo
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said the rollout of Minnesota's new health insurance exchange was not perfect, but given the complexity and scope of the project, Dayton said he believes it performed "phenomenally well." He said as of Monday, more than 18,000 people had created MNsure accounts, but it's too soon to say whether the program is a success. "It’s going to be a year before we really have a sense of the scope of public participation," he said (Pugmire, 10/22).

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