Florida's dominant insurer signals increases ahead for consumers with exchange plans

News outlets from Colorado, Missouri, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota report on developments regarding the online insurances marketplaces, coverage and premium costs.

Kaiser Health News: Florida's Biggest Health Insurer Signals Rate Hikes Ahead
Florida Blue, the state's dominant health insurer, snagged more than one in three consumers on the health law's exchange, but many could face rate hikes as the carrier struggles with an influx of older and sicker enrollees, said the company's top executive (Galewitz, 7/21).

The Denver Post: Billing Issues Crop Up on Health Plans Sold Through Colorado Exchange
In response to a request from The Denver Post, Connect for Health Colorado provided data showing that the categories covering billing issues and questions were about 5.8 percent of calls to customer service in June. That was the fourth-largest percentage after individual categories of general customer assistance questions, Medicaid questions and exchange representatives calling customers to resolve a problem (Kane, 7/21).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Health Insurance Campaigns Face New Obstacles With a Tighter Budget
Learning from the stumbles and success of the first open enrollment period for insurance, Illinois and Missouri campaigns are taking different approaches to not only gain new customers this fall but also to keep their previous ones. Every state has a unique strategy, given its population and political stance. Missouri and Illinois are no exception. The Show-Me state has a smaller, more rural population and a history of opposing the Affordable Care Act. For this reason, the nonprofit organization Missouri Foundation for Health took on the responsibility of creating an enrollment campaign without the state's help. And in the Land of Lincoln, where Barack Obama got his start in politics, the state has embraced the president's signature health care law and runs its own campaign, while partnering with the federal government for its online marketplace (Kulash, 7/20).

Seattle Times: Payment Slip-ups Still Plague State Health Insurance Exchange
Their numbers might be small, but the headaches are big. Customers of the state health-insurance exchange who have "stuck accounts" remain in a limbo that, for them, may seem endless. The problem is acute enough that the Legislature's Joint Select Committee on Health Care Oversight spent much of its hearing last week questioning exchange officials over what's being done and who's responsible. For months now, some customers who have purchased insurance policies through the Washington Healthplanfinder have had problems with their accounts. In particular, many have made premium payments through the exchange (as the system was set up), only to find out later the insurer had not received the payments, keeping those customers from being covered (Marshall, 7/21).

The Oregonian: Oregon Health Insurers Push For Rate Hikes, Cuts; Public Comment Closing Soon
Oregon regulators have finished a round of public hearings on proposed health insurance premiums for 2015, but the public comment period will be open until midnight tonight. Last year, Moda Health led the pack in premium cost by such a wide margin that some felt the firm was underpricing to gain market share. It doubled its share of the state individual market to 40 percent. This year, the firm proposed a 12.5 percent overall rate hike, sparking opposition by The OSPIRG Foundation, a consumer group, as well as several commenters on the Oregon Insurance Division website, oregonhealthrates.org (Budnick, 7/18).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Officials Hope To Repair Broken State Health Insurance Exchange For 2016
For those who assume Cover Oregon will go away when the federal government takes over the state exchange's job of enrolling people in health coverage, think again. Even as Oregon works on hooking up to the federal website by November, some Cover Oregon board members hope the engagement with Uncle Sam will be only a one-year affair. Despite the board's vote to move to Healthcare.gov, the state's $250-million Oracle-led technology project is not dead (Budnick, 7/18).

The Oregonian: Oracle, State Lawyers Discuss Possible Settlement Over Cover Oregon Health Exchange Debacle
Lawyers for Oracle Corp. and the state of Oregon met Tuesday to discuss whether a lawsuit brewing over the Cover Oregon debacle can be averted. No agreement was announced, and both sides declined to characterize the meeting, the odds of an agreement, or what comes next. But the talk of settlement does suggest both sides take seriously the likelihood of court action. In May, Gov. John Kitzhaber urged Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to file a lawsuit against the California software giant, saying it failed to deliver in its role as lead technology vendor. That same month, the Oregon Department of Justice entered into a new $2-million contract with Portland law firm Markowitz Herbold Glade & Mehlhaf PC to prepare for litigation (Budnick, 7/18).

Minnesota Public Radio: After Tough Start, Is MNsure Prepared For Fall Enrollment?
An independent consultant hired by the state found no serious security problems with MNsure's website. But the firm, Deloitte Consulting, faulted the state health insurance exchange for being technologically complex and confusing to its users. MNsure CEO Scott Leitz joins Tom Weber on The Daily Circuit to talk about how the exchange is preparing for its second open enrollment season (7/21).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org 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.

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