‘Deluge’ Of Signups Reported By Some State Exchanges
A handful of states with relatively smoothly operating insurance websites have seen enrollment increases of 30 percent to 40 percent this week. But others, including Massachusetts, Maryland and Colorado, continue to experience political as well as technical challenges.
USA Today: States Say Health Sign-Ups On Exchanges Increasing
States with their own well-running health insurance exchanges reported on Wednesday an increase of 30% to 40% in enrollments from last week to this week. "We're seeing huge interest," said Peter Lee, director of California's exchange, during a conference call sponsored by Families USA, a health care advocacy group that supports the Affordable Care Act. Six months ago, "no American knew about" the state exchanges (Kennedy, 12/18).
NBC News: Patients Pour On To Successful State Insurance Exchanges
People are flocking to the more successful state health insurance exchanges in the final days before a late-December deadline, exchange directors said Wednesday. So many people are calling in for help that states have had to beef up call center staffing, and insurers have agreed to let deadlines slide a bit so that as many people as possible can get coverage starting Jan 1. In just five states – California, Connecticut, Kentucky, New York and Washington – more than 436,000 people are signed up for health insurance – more than in the 36 states covered by the federal exchange. But the directors of the five exchanges say what’s happening in their states reflects much of what is going on nationwide – people want health insurance being offered by the Affordable Care Act (Fox, 12/18).
The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: California Is Averaging 15,000 Obamacare Enrollments Each Day
State health exchanges are reporting a surge in enrollment -- and consumer interest -- as they near a late December deadline to purchase insurance coverage. If November had an Obamacare surge, consider this the December deluge. California averaged 15,000 daily enrollments early last week, about double the sign-ups the state had in early December. New York is now seeing about 4,500 residents choosing plans each day and, in Connecticut, the number is hovering around 1,400. With consumer interest seeming to spike, these states and others are increasing call center staffing by half (Kliff, 12/18).
Politico: Obamacare Crashes Into Romneycare
Massachusetts created a Romneycare-inspired template for President Barack Obama’s health reform effort. Now, as the Bay State is struggling to upgrade for the Obamacare era, its enrollment system is buckling under technical glitches like those that hobbled HealthCare.gov. State officials are increasingly concerned that thousands of Massachusetts residents seeking coverage are lost in a wilderness of misfiled applications and cybermalfunctions. Now, they’re moving ahead with a labor intensive backup plan aimed at making sure that no one loses coverage when Obamacare starts in January (Cheney, 12/18).
Los Angeles Times: California’s Health Exchange Botched Letters To 114,000 Households
Adding to consumer confusion ahead of a major enrollment deadline, California's health insurance exchange sent flawed eligibility notices to nearly 114,000 households due to a computer error. The Covered California exchange said the letters sent from Nov. 22 to Dec. 7 had blank spaces or missing information on people's eligibility for insurance or federal premium subsidies (Terhune, 12/18).
The California Health Report: Holiday Shoppers Find Insurance Help At The Mall
For the first time this year, visitors to some California malls are seeing a new kind of holiday sales promotion: the Affordable Care Act. That’s because anyone wanting health insurance under the ACA by New Year’s Day faces a Dec. 23 deadline to enroll. More than three quarters of a million people have started the sign-up process online at California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, and more than 109,000 completed the process in the first two months of the enrollment period. Signups accelerated sharply in early December, Covered California figures show. Still, state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said she and a group of union organizers worried that some people might fall through the cracks (Richard, 12/19).
The Washington Post: Delaney Says Maryland Still Should Weigh Switching To Federal Health Exchange
Rep. John Delaney continued to press the idea Wednesday that Maryland should consider abandoning its online health insurance exchange in favor of the federal marketplace, despite representations by Gov. Martin O’Malley that the most pressing problems hindering enrollment have been fixed. Delaney (D-Md.) said in an interview that he still believes Marylanders seeking insurance might be better served by the federal exchange. He acknowledged that the switch would present some challenges but said he doesn’t think those are necessarily greater than those posed by the state site, which has been riddled with glitches since its Oct.1 launch (Wagner, 12/18).
The Baltimore Sun: Maryland’s Health Exchange Site Running More Smoothly, Users Say
Even as work continues to mend the state's health exchange, enrollment of uninsured Marylanders is going more smoothly and a marketing push is set to get underway, users and state officials said Wednesday. Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Monday that he was bringing in Columbia-based Optum/QSSI, which worked on fixes for the federal exchange, to help the state's troubled site (Cohn, 12/18).
Fox News: Colorado Bill Would Use Tax Credits To Offset ObamaCare Penalty
Two Republican lawmakers in Colorado plan to introduce a proposal that would make it easier for residents to opt out of ObamaCare by creating a tax deduction to offset the federal penalty for not purchasing health insurance. State Reps. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, and Jared Wright, R-Fruita, announced this week that they will introduce the Healthcare Liberty Act when the state's 2014 legislative session convenes in January, KDVR.com reported. Under the proposal, anyone who is fined for failing to purchase health insurance would be given a state tax deduction in an amount equal to the federal tax penalty. The deadline for avoiding penalties under ObamaCare is March 31 (12/19).
The CT Mirror: GOP Senator Wants Hearing On Access Health CT Problems
The top Republican on the legislature’s insurance committee wants the head of Connecticut’s health exchange to answer more questions -- publicly -- about problems with the system. And Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, also wants lawmakers to conduct a public hearing to allow consumers to vent their frustrations with Connecticut’s efforts to implement the federal Affordable Care Act. Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT, appeared before the Insurance and Real Estate Committee on Nov. 22, but that stop “raised more questions than answers,” Kelly said during a late-morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building (Phaneuf, 12/18).
Des Moines Register: Health Care For 10,000 Iowans In Limbo Over Communications Snarl
Thousands of modest-income Iowans who filled out health insurance applications via the government’s new online marketplace could be without coverage on Jan. 1, because of a lack of communication between federal and state officials. The issue involves people who might qualify for Iowa’s version of Medicaid, the public insurance program for the poor, or related programs (Leys, 12/19).