Report: Wide variation in state exchange plans' covered benefits

University of Pennsylvania researchers find that the variations are significant. Other news about the online health marketplaces that open next month include Oregon's decision to ditch the old system for Medicaid enrollment, a review of navigators' roles in Georgia, and Maryland officials' assurances that their system will be ready.

Politico Pro: Wide State Differences Seen In Obamacare EHBs
ACA exchange enrollees in almost every state will find that chiropractic care is a covered benefit under their health plan, but they won't have as much luck with acupuncture and weight loss programs, a new report from University of Pennsylvania researchers shows. The report, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds that significant state variation exists in the ACA essential health benefits that insurers must cover to offer plans on the exchanges (Pradhan, 10/21).

Georgia Health News: Navigators Aided Consumers In Need, Report Shows
Consumers in Georgia and three other states who were helped by navigators for the 2014 insurance exchanges tended to be people of color who were not financially secure, a recently released report says. Navigators, who are specially trained in the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, provide face-to-face, in-person help for consumers seeking information about health insurance policies in the state exchanges, also called marketplaces (Miller, 10/21).

Denver Post: Disconnect For Health Consumers In Colorado Who Passed On Insurance Through State Exchange
A sign placed out on the 16th Street Mall beckoned people in late March to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care and Connect for Health Colorado. Colorado was one of 16 states that set up its own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and one of 27 states to expand Medicaid. Between the two, Colorado had enrolled more than 300,000 in one or the other by March 31. Among the state exchanges, Colorado had the fourth-highest number of people sign up for private insurance through its marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. That was estimated to be 25 percent of eligible individuals. The Colorado Health Foundation hired the RAND Corporation to study why the rest hadn't signed up. The foundation released the report, "Barriers to Enrollment in Health Coverage in Colorado," in mid-October (Draper, 10/21).

Baltimore Sun: Md. Is In 'Good Shape' For Health Exchange, Official Says
Less than three weeks before uninsured Marylanders get their first look at health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, officials say preparations are on track. The state's health exchange website crashed on its first day last year and tangled thousands in technological troubles for months. But in a briefing to members of the exchange board Tuesday, the site's top technical officer said it has been fully revamped and appears to be working properly. Though preparations continue, tests show it can handle thousands of users at a time and complex cases (Cohn, 10/21).

Kansas City Star: Coming Soon: Obamacare Take II
It was a near disaster last year when the Affordable Care Act's health insurance plan marketplaces opened for business. The website for online enrollment crashed on day one. Political opponents rose in a gleeful chorus of "I told you so." The public was frustrated and confused. But ultimately, more than 7 million people enrolled in the ACA's health insurance plans, meeting original predictions. Now, it's time for round two. Open enrollment for the ACA's 2015 marketplace insurance plans starts Nov. 15. And this time, the organizations promoting enrollment are optimistic it will go a lot more smoothly. The regional coalition of foundations, social service organizations and safety net clinics will try to better coordinate their work and focus on groups -; African-Americans, Latinos, the LGBT community, rural residents -; that have been hard to reach (Bavley, 10/21).

Salem Ore. Statesman Journal: Oregon Seeking To Use Different State's Medicaid System
The state has cut its final ties between Cover Oregon and Oracle, the company that was hired to build Oregon's state health insurance exchange. After the two entities failed to launch a working insurance marketplace, the state distanced itself from Oracle and instead piggy-backed on the federal health care exchange for private insurance. Oregon officials had hoped to build on existing work of Oracle's to create an automated system for Medicaid enrollments, but continued disagreements have led to the state giving up on any plans involving the corporation. ... A list of criteria are being developed to help guide the decision on which state Medicaid system to use (Yoo, 10/21).

The Oregonian: Oregon Gives Up On Oracle Technology, Will Use Another State's Medicaid System
State officials have given up on trying to salvage a portion of the troubled Cover Oregon technology project, essentially abandoning all hope of getting any lasting benefit from the $240 million paid Oracle America on the health insurance exchange and related work. ... The state had been planning to use salvaged Oracle technology for enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan, but has now halted that effort (Budnick, 10/21).

The Washington Post: Obamacare's Small-Business Exchanges To See Major Changes In The Coming Months
One year in, the new small-business insurance marketplaces born out of the new federal health-care law have fallen short of their promise in nearly every state, both in terms of functionality and enrollment. However, many are scheduled to see some important updates heading into year two -; ones that health officials say should make them much more useful and appealing to small employers and their workers (Harrison, 10/20).

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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