to get makeover

The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal health insurance website is slated for an overhaul that will likely result in the scrapping of major parts of it that caused problems during last fall's launch. Its tight timeline is among the issues raising new concern. Meanwhile, news outlets also report on small business exchanges as well as developments regarding state online marketplaces in Connecticut, Kansas, Washington and Colorado.

The Wall Street Journal: Administration Overhauls Federal Health-Care Website
The Obama administration is revamping and scrapping significant parts of the federal health-insurance marketplace in an effort to avoid the problems that plagued the site's launch last fall, according to presentations to health insurers and interviews with government officials and contractors. But the makeover -- and the tight timeline to accomplish it -- are raising concerns that consumers could face another rocky rollout this fall when they return to the site to choose health plans. Some key back-end functions, including a system to automate payments to insurers, are running behind schedule, according to a presentation federal officials made to health insurers (Anti, Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 6/5).

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: These States Want Another Obamacare Delay
The small business exchanges, like the law's individual exchanges, are a virtual marketplace where businesses with 50 or fewer employees can compare health plans. Besides offering a limited tax credit, Obamacare small business exchanges, or SHOP, are supposed to offer one particular feature that changes the healthcare landscape for small companies: choice. Through what's known as "employee choice," small businesses can send employees to the SHOP exchanges with a set contribution, and then the employee can pick a health plan among those offered on the SHOP exchange. This employee choice feature is "crucial" to the success of the SHOP exchanges, according to Small Business Majority, a group supporting the Affordable Care Act (Millman, 6/5).

The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Insurance? There's An App For That
Access Health CT's mobile application is available for iPhone users and will be rolling out soon for Androids and iPads, officials at Connecticut's health insurance exchange said Thursday. Access Health officials say the free mobile app will make it easier for people to shop for health care coverage using smart phones or tablets. Officials hope it will appeal to young people -- a coveted customer pool -- and to people who have smart phones but don't have regular access to a computer (Becker, 6/5).

Kansas Health Institute News Service: Radio Ads Promote Health Insurance Marketplace
Radio stations across Kansas next week will begin airing commercials designed to let people know they can buy health insurance on the federal marketplace if they've experienced a life-altering event within the past 60 days. Life-altering events include marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, birth of a child, job loss, retirement and moving from one community to another. The Cover Kansas radio ad campaign aims to let people know they still can sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace if they've experienced a life-altering event. KAMU is administering a federal grant on behalf of a consortium that includes the Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, Kansas Area Agencies on Aging Association and Kansas Insurance Department (Ranney, 6/5).

KING 5 TV: Insurance Agents Struggling With State's New Health Exchange
Here's how this works. Gant is a broker for Premera. She has to use the state's health exchange to enroll new clients. Then Premera is supposed to send her a commission check every month for each client. What happens next seems to be a disappearing act. "What's happening as near as I can tell is that when the client goes over to Premera there's like a black hole. They all the sudden fall off of my list as being the agent," Gant said (Jones, 6/4).

Health News Colorado: Exchange Spent $10 Million For 8,000 Face-To-Face Sign-Ups
Colorado health exchange managers spent $10 million over the past year on a statewide assistance network that generated about 8,000 sign-ups for private health insurance. Board critics pressed managers on the wisdom and sustainability of spending about $1,250 per customer for the face-to-face help centers. Altogether, health guides at 150 locations around the state signed up a total of 46,000 people for new health coverage. All but 8,000 of those people qualified for public health programs including Medicaid and CHP+, a program for children (McCrimmon, 6/5).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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