State Health Exchange Officials Offer Enrollment Update

Dec 18, 2013

The administrators of several state health care exchanges offered an update on the status of enrollments and operations Wednesday afternoon. 

There are 17 state-based marketplaces. State directors from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, New York and Washington updated the progress of their insurance marketplaces and expressed satisfaction in across-the-board enrollment growth. New York State of Health Counsel Lisa Sbrana reports an average of 12 to 1,500 calls per hour at the customer service center and a 34 percent increase in enrollment in the past week.  “We are continuing to see average daily enrollment of about 4,500 people and we’ve had nearly 300,000 calls since the call center opened, and really continue to see an increase there.”

Connecticut reports more than 47,000 enrollees, with about 1,400 more each day and 6,000 calls to call centers daily.  And that, according to Access Health CT Chief Executive Director Kevin Counihan, is far more than anticipated.   “They’re roughly three times what we had two weeks ago. So we’ve increased our call center staff. But that’s an area that we’re not happy with.”

All of the exchange executives noted a substantial increase in call center volume. Last week, New York Congressman Bill Owens held a town hall meeting focused on New York’s exchange with numerous questions from confused constituents. Lisa Sbrana says education efforts are ongoing throughout the state.  “We have an outreach team that is getting the word out to educate folks on the marketplace and when enrollment ends and how to connect with a broker or navigator if that in-person assistance is what someone needs.  We’ve been trying to get more information out than is done through advertising.”
Kevin Counihan adds that enrollment in Connecticut has tended to be on-on-one.  “The role of the brokers, the navigators, the in-person assistors, the community outreach workers, the community health centers, they’ve all been very impactful ways to communicate to the market.”

Individuals who want their coverage to begin on January 1st must complete their applications by December 23rd. Some states are adjusting deadlines or working with providers in case plans cannot be paid or records are not completely processed. Lisa Sbrana says New York officials are meeting with carriers to determine options.  “We currently have a 10 day grace period which would take folks to January 10th to pay for coverage that would begin on January 1st.  We’re doing everything we can to get everybody in by the 23rd deadline so that we can make sure folks have time to get invoices and get those paid.”
Connecticut’s Counihan  emphasized that the final enrollment to meet January coverage there is December 23rd.   “Final premium due date is January 7th. We’re working with the plans right now to see if there’s some flexibility that we can get. We’re also working with the Connecticut Hospital Association to try to see that if there is some issue around eligibility or enrollment, if there can’t be some flexibility on that as well.”

The meeting was coordinated by Families USA, a supporter of the federal Affordable Care Act, to highlight successful state-based health marketplaces.