KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Health Exchanges Running More Smoothly Than Federal Marketplace

The New York Times reports that, while difficulties continue for consumers in the 30 states that are using the federal government's online health insurance marketplace, those who live in states that have chosen to operate their own are faring better. Other media outlets offer sign up tallies and other updates from New York, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin.   

The New York Times: Uninsured Find More Success Via Health Exchanges Run By States
The experience described by Ms. Skrebes is in stark contrast to reports of widespread technical problems that have hampered enrollment in the online health insurance marketplace run by the federal government since it opened on Oct. 1. While many people have been frustrated in their efforts to obtain coverage through the federal exchange, which is used by more than 30 states, consumers have had more success signing up for health insurance through many of the state-run exchanges, federal and state officials and outside experts say (Pear and Goodnough, 10/8).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: N.Y. Exchange Says 40,000 Have Applied For Coverage
New York's online insurance exchange on Tuesday said more than 40,000 people have completed applications for coverage so far, though not all have chosen a health plan. Officials from the exchange, called NY State of Health, said these applicants were found eligible to buy a health plan (Galewitz, 10/9).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Reports 40,000 Enroll For Health Insurance
State officials say 40,000 New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance in the first week of operation for the new state-run marketplace that includes low-cost plans. The NY State of Health says its website has quadrupled capacity since opening enrollment Oct. 1, resolving the issues that initially kept many consumers from advancing past the home page, and says it is running smoothly (10/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: 28K Sign Up For Health Coverage Through California's Exchange
More than 16,000 applications on behalf of 28,700 people have been completed through the state’s insurance marketplace, Covered California, officials announced Tuesday. Executive Director Peter Lee said 16,311 applications, some representing several family members, were completed between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5 and another 27,305 are in process. Lee did not specify how many of the applicants would receive coverage through the state-based exchange or how many qualified for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (Gorman, 10/8).

Los Angeles Times: California Health Insurance Enrollment Site Touts Robust Activity
Seeking to rebut mounting criticism over the rollout of Obamacare nationwide, California's insurance exchange boasted that nearly 29,000 people applied for coverage last week under the federal healthcare law. Covered California, the state's new marketplace, said it released the data earlier than planned to counter "misinformation" and reports about widespread glitches preventing people from signing up. Peter Lee, the exchange's executive director, defended the law and cited the personal stories of Californians who had successfully sought coverage (Terhune, 10/8).

Bloomberg: California Obamacare Sign-Ups Exceed 28,000 In First Week
California said 28,699 people were signed up in the state’s health-insurance exchange in the first week, while New York had more than 40,000 sign up. The numbers for California, the largest U.S. state by population, were for the Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 period and exceeded expectations, Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, said at a news conference today in Sacramento. New York, the third most-populous state, said in a statement that its pace of sign-ups shows the exchange is “working smoothly” (Vekshin, 10/8).

The Sacramento Bee: California Insurance Exchange Reports 16K Finalized Applications
The head of California's health insurance marketplace announced Tuesday that 16,311 households completed applications in the first week of enrollment. Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said the response Oct. 1-5 underscores the demand for health insurance in the state. Some 27,305 households have partially completed applications. In addition, more than 430 small businesses have signed up. Actual enrollment figures will not become available until customers start paying for and then receiving insurance benefits come Jan. 1 (Cadelago, 10/8).

San Jose Mercury News: California Health Insurance Exchange Reports Nearly 1 Million Visitors In First Week; 16,311 Households Sign Up
Almost one week after opening the state's health insurance exchange, officials with Covered California on Tuesday called the response "nothing short of phenomenal.'' At a morning news conference in Sacramento, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee reported that 16,311 households had completed applications for health insurance, while 27,305 others had established accounts and partially completed their applications. "We started strong the first week,'' Lee said. "The response of consumers has underscored the demand” (Seipel, 10/8).

The Associated Press: Health Marketplace Draws Younger Conn. Residents
Nearly one-third of enrollees in Connecticut's health insurance marketplace are between 18 and 34 years old, early data show. The numbers represent "a very good start," said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the marketplace, called Access Health CT (10/8).

The CT Mirror: Nearly A Third Of Initial Access Health Applicants Are Under 35, CEO Says
Nearly a third of the initial applicants to Access Health CT, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, are under 35, CEO Kevin Counihan said Tuesday. And of all the applicants, most have selected the so-called silver or gold plans, which have higher premiums and cover a larger share of medical costs than the lower-cost bronze plan options (Becker, 10/8).

The Oregonian: Oregon’s Health Insurance Exchange Still Can’t Enroll, Check Tax Credits; Browsers Welcome
Oregon's new health exchange, Cover Oregon, remains unable to enroll people for health insurance even with agents and application assisters that were given early access to the site. Most people, those with insurance through an employer or Medicare, won't be affected by the delays to the website. But for those who buy their own policies on the individual market and who hope to qualify for new tax credits to reduce premiums, the website wasn't able to help them as open enrollment began last week. The exchanges are the focal point of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Budnick, 10/7).

Kaiser Health News: Problems Continue For Some Users On Minnesota's Health Insurance Exchange
Days after Minnesota's online insurance marketplace had a less-than-trouble-free launch, MNsure officials are betting that consumers will have a smoother experience this week. But the site is not in the clear yet. Intermittent problems with account creation continue for users of the online health insurance marketplace, and weekend fixes to a key federal component of the system appeared to trigger a new set of problems (Stawicki, 10/8).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure Account Verification Problems To Be Fixed, Officials Say
A technical problem that has prevented many Minnesotans from enrolling in the state's new health insurance marketplace should be resolved tonight, MNsure officials said Tuesday. The problem had to do with a connection with a federal database used to identify whether site users are who they say they are. For the last few days, it has prevented people from creating an account and enrolling in an insurance plan. MNsure has been working with the federal government to find a solution. Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said she hopes the latest fix will solve the identity verification problems once and for all (Richert, 10/8).

In other news, here are two reports about the push to sign people up and raise public awareness -

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: People Signed Up For Obamacare At Milwaukee Health Department: Zero
As of noon Tuesday, Arise Health Plan had sold nine health plans on the new marketplace in Wisconsin set up under the Affordable Care Act. This was a full week after the launch of the marketplace — and the problems that have rendered the marketplaces in Wisconsin and other states largely inoperable in their first week still have not been fully worked out. Arise, a subsidiary of WPS Insurance Corp. in Madison, though, was beginning to see an increase in sales Tuesday, said Ellen Foley, a company spokeswoman (Boulton, 10/8).

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Officials Vote To Create Obamacare Marketing Plan
Because of the vast number of uninsured people living in Los Angeles County, it is going to be one of the primary places in the nation to measure the effectiveness of Obamacare. On Tuesday, county leaders voted to create a marketing plan to inform residents of their options under the Affordable Care Act (Mehta, 10/8).

Meanwhile, the Columbus Dispatch reports on movement regarding the state's Medicaid expansion circumstances -

Columbus Dispatch: Kasich Medicaid-Expansion Plan Puts Heat On GOP Legislators
If Gov. John Kasich moves ahead with Medicaid expansion via an executive order, legislators could be pressed to approve the funding or face bankrupting the massive health-care system in Ohio. Speculation is rampant that on Oct. 21, Kasich will ask the seven-member legislative-spending oversight panel to give him the authority to spend federal money to cover an estimated 275,000 low-income Ohioans under Medicaid (Siegel, 10/8).

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