KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Enrollment Push Is Tough In Mississippi

Politico reports on efforts to sign people up for health care as Humana sends a lime green bus through some of the state's poorest areas. Other outlets look at enrollment campaigns in Maine, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon and Colorado.

Politico: Obamacare Enrollment Rides A Bus Into The Mississippi Delta
In the poorest state in the nation, where supper is fried, bars allow smoking, chronic disease is rampant and doctors are hard to come by, Obamacare rolls into town in a lime green bus. It took some real convincing by the Obama administration and a leap of faith by one state Republican official to get one of the nation’s largest insurance companies — Humana — to set up shop across Mississippi. Virtually no other insurer was willing to do so, discouraged by the acute health needs here and most elected officials’ outright hostility to the law. Four months and more than 200 bus stops later, enrollment numbers here remain dismal. Only 9 percent of the state’s Obamacare-eligible population have signed up, putting it near the bottom of yet another national statistic (Haberkorn, 3/22).

The Associated Press: Health Law A Lifeline For Some Maine Lobstermen
So over the past several months, advocates set about educating lobstermen and their families about the law, listening to their concerns and signing up hundreds of the 5,000 or so lobstermen who work off the coast of Maine for insurance through the marketplaces created under the law. That signup rate is seen as a win by the advocates, who say many more have likely enrolled without their knowledge (Davis, 3/22).

Los Angeles Times: California Pitches Obamacare At CVS, Ralphs As Deadline Nears
Milk, bread and Obamacare. Ahead of the March 31 enrollment deadline, the Covered California exchange said Friday that it reached a deal with pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp. and the Ralphs grocery chain to promote the healthcare law inside their stores. The state said it will have health insurance information displays at the front of CVS stores. At Ralphs supermarkets, shoppers can get brochures and other information, hear in-store announcements and see messages on their receipts about health coverage (Terhune, 3/21).

Kaiser Health News: Connecticut Customers Rush To Retail Store To Buy Insurance
Mike Dunn stands inside a store in downtown New Haven, Conn., looking through the big glass windows at his future customers outside. He's not selling phones or food or clothes. He's selling Obamacare. There's one week left to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and states have gone to great lengths to enroll as many people up as possible. In Connecticut, the exchange has opened two retail storefronts where people can walk in and sign up (Cohen, 3/24).

Pioneer Press: Can MNSure Avoid Another Deadline 'Nightmare' This Month? 
When Minnesota launched its new health insurance exchange Oct. 1, the problems came quickly. By late October, the error rate at the MNsure website peaked at 22 percent. ... In December, the call center was overwhelmed, and people endured waits of more than two hours while trying to finalize coverage before a New Year's Eve deadline. The next big deadline for MNsure comes March 31 (Snowbeck, 3/22).

The Associated Press: Health Insurance Out Of Reach For Some Oregonians 
Diedre Gibbons' disability income and her older husband's part-time job on a construction crew barely pay the bills. And though the Oregon couple need ongoing health care and qualify for subsidies on the state's insurance exchange, they remain uninsured (Wozniacka, 3/23). 

The Denver Post: Colorado Health Exchange's Marketing Budget Draws Enrollee Critics 
Colorado's health care exchange has spent nearly $8 million marketing itself to residents .... Connect for Health Colorado conducted surveys to measure the effectiveness of its marketing. It found that the share of people who had heard of the exchange increased from 19 percent in April to 60 percent in December. But the survey also showed apparent setbacks in key areas. The share of those who said they believe the exchange is for them dropped 19 percentage points, and those who thought it was for small business dropped 20 points (Kane, 3/24).  

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