KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Despite Snags, Online Insurance Marketplaces Open For Business

The technical glitches were complicated by the millions of people who visited the online health exchanges on Tuesday, their first day of operations. For instance, Health and Human Services officials reported that 2.8 million unique visitors had been to the federal website.

The New York Times: Opening Rush To Insurance Markets Runs Into Snags
Millions of Americans visited new online health insurance exchanges as enrollment opened on Tuesday, suggesting a broad national appetite for the affordable coverage that President Obama has promised with his health care law. But many people quickly encountered technological problems that prevented them from getting rates, comparing health plans or signing up (Goodnough, Pear and Perez-Pena, 10/1).

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Marketplaces Open, Despite Technical Glitches And Government Shutdown
Online marketplaces at the heart of the health law opened for business Tuesday, often haltingly, as a government shutdown loomed over a milestone in President Barack Obama's signature domestic accomplishment (Hancock, Galewitz and Rao, 10/1).

The Washington Post: Obamacare Site Goes Live, With Some Glitches
Millions of Americans flooded government Web sites Tuesday to get a long-awaited look at insurance options available under the health law, but the high traffic contributed to widespread computer problems on what President Obama hailed as a historic day., the federal Web marketplace serving more than 30 states, was jammed for most of the day, with people encountering error messages that froze their applications. In the states operating their own marketplaces, the experience was spotty. Maryland's site, Maryland Health Connection, was down for the morning and sluggish into the evening. Lesser problems were reported in Colorado, Washington, Hawaii and elsewhere (Somashekhar, Kliff and Svrluga, 10/1).

Los Angeles Times: Glitches, Delays Mar Rollout Of Online Health Insurance Marketplaces
New online insurance marketplaces created by President Obama's healthcare law got off to a bumpy start Tuesday, as a rush of consumers and a host of technical glitches slowed enrollment on the first day uninsured Americans could sign up for coverage. Several states running their own marketplaces — including Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington — were forced to delay the rollout of their websites, even as other states reported that shoppers were signing up (Levey, 10/1).

Politico: Obamacare: Hurry Up And Wait
By mid-afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that 2.8 million unique visitors had been to the Website, though there were no statistics available for how many were actually able to enroll. Some users experienced long waiting periods, and others ran into impediments that likely had little to do with the volume of traffic. For example, the drop-down boxes on the federal Website weren't working for much of the day, preventing users from answering security questions and establishing accounts. But HHS, which cited figures of 81,000 consumers calling the department's toll-free number to sign up and another 60,000 requesting help through online chats, celebrated the fact that the health insurance marketplaces at the heart of Obamacare were in fact open for business Tuesday (Allen, 10/1).

The Associated Press: A Bumpy First Day For New Insurance Marketplaces
For millions of Americans trying to log in, the online insurance marketplaces created by the new health care law began with a stalled website, an error message or a menu that didn’t work. But the debut of the new insurance marketplaces might have been a victim of the law's own success. The initial sign-up day appeared to draw heavy interest that suggested pent-up demand for just the kind of coverage now being offered (Johnson, 10/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Exchanges Open, With Glitches
The health-insurance marketplaces at the center of President Barack Obama's health law saw a surge of consumer interest Tuesday that surprised even many of the law's backers. But the debut proved patchy, with few applicants actually able to buy coverage on clogged websites that were bedeviled with technological problems (Weaver, Martin and Radnofsky, 10/1).

The New York Times: As Insurance Marketplaces Make Debut, Questions Remain
Most predictions have been for a trickle of new customers at first, with polls showing that many Americans remain uncertain about the purpose of the exchanges and unconvinced that the law will help them. The exchanges are online markets where people can shop for health plans and see if they qualify for federal subsidies. Despite months of feverish preparation, few officials are sure the exchanges have overcome a range of problems that have plagued the system in many states, including with Spanish-language versions, subsidy calculators and programs to enroll small businesses (Perez-Pena, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Glitches Lead To Frustration, Resolve To Keep Trying
Americans who flocked Tuesday to shop for health insurance on the online marketplaces created under the federal health law were largely frustrated in their attempts. But many were undeterred and said they would be back. Kevin Burke, a 44-year-old New Jersey entrepreneur, logged onto an exchange website eager to find a plan for himself, his wife and two children that would be less expensive than the one they have now with Aetna Inc. … But high traffic and glitches on the website made it impossible to find what he needed, said Mr. Burke, who is starting an online business. "It's a total mess. I can't get any information. I'm no more knowledgeable now than I was yesterday," he said. Still, he said, "I'm going to keep trying" (Needleman and McWhirter, 10/1).

Politico: Obamacare's Day 2 Message: Forget Washington
If there's one message coming out of the White House about the Obamacare sign-up period, it's this: Forget Washington. While the nation's capital remains in shutdown mode, lost in a seemingly hopeless partisan clash over whether the rest of the government's operations and its creditworthiness should be held captive to the health care law, the administration's six-month window to "enroll America" enters Day Two on Wednesday (Allen, 10/2).

CQ HealthBeat: 'Focus And Fix' Must Be The Mantra At CMS, Say Brooking Analysts Who Set Up Part D
Coping with the glitches that crop up during the first open enrollment of the health care law exchanges is going to be a matter of focusing and fixing them — something the staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has the experience and determination to do, say top Bush administration officials who implemented the Medicare drug benefit (Reichard, 10/1).

NPR: Tech Problems Plague First Day Of Health Exchange Rollout
Many Americans got "please wait" messages Tuesday when they tried to start shopping for health coverage on the federal government's new health insurance website, A series of technological glitches, delays and crashes kept people from getting to several of the 16 state exchanges, too (Hu, 10/2).

Reuters: Web Traffic, Glitches Slow Obamacare Exchanges Launch
Technical glitches and heavy internet traffic slowed Tuesday's launch of new online insurance exchanges at the heart of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, showcasing the challenge of covering millions of uninsured Americans. The opening itself represented a victory for Obama's signature domestic policy achievement after years of attack from Republican foes and delays in building the technology infrastructure to support sites in 50 U.S. states (Morgan and Humer, 10/1).

Reuters: 'The System Is Down': Obamacare Glitches Go Public, Reasons Unclear
Blank boxes where security questions are supposed to appear. Pleas to "be patient." Error messages galore. Notices that "the system is busy right now." Web pages timing out before they load. Garbled lines of text riddled with stray question marks. Technology experts and government officials were stumped about the reasons for the computer glitches plaguing the Obama administration's launch of new health insurance exchanges (Begley and Humer, 10/1).

PBS NewsHour: Opening Day Of Insurance Exchanges Overwhelmed By Online Rush
Americans eager to explore or sign up on the new online insurance exchanges were confronted with technical glitches due to the rush of traffic on the website. Judy Woodruff talks to Julie Rovner of NPR and Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal about who was shopping for health care coverage on day one of the program (Woodruff, 10/1).

McClatchy: On Opening Day For Obamacare, A Rocky Start
The problems didn’t come as a surprise. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned on Monday that technical issues would arise in the marketplace rollouts. But the extent of the problems caught many by surprise and left agency officials forced to play defense. "This work represents more than three years of policy and operations coming together. This has never been done before and this is a historic moment," Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said in the telephone briefing. "If you look at what we have just experienced in the last 15 hours, the first that we have actually been open, we have seen more simultaneous users to our website than we have ever seen on We think that's a tremendous beginning to this program and we are off to a good start" (Pugh, 10/1).

Meanwhile, with the launch came more information about the plans that will be available -

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: HHS Releases List Of Premium Rates For 36 States
The Department of Health and Human Services has posted premiums for more than 78,000 plans on its website. The data lists each plan by insurer and the plan name and the monthly premium rate for a child, a 27-year-old,a family with 30-year-old parents and two kids, a single-parent family with two 30-year-olds, and a 40-year-old couple without children (Rau, 10/1).

The Associated Press: Florida's Cheapest Plan Under Health Overhaul Less Than $100 A Month For 27-year-old
The most expensive health insurance premiums for individuals in Florida in the new government-run online marketplace are in the Florida Keys, and the cheapest premiums are for a bare-bones plan offered in Broward County, according to federal data released late Tuesday (Schneider and Kennedy, 10/2).

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