Pace Of Health Insurance Applications Picks Up

News outlets in Wisconsin and Minnesota report increases in applications for coverage through new online marketplaces. But baby boomers, as opposed to so-called "young invincibles," dominate sign-ups in Colorado, while in California, Democratic lawmakers worry a lookalike website set up by Republican lawmakers will lead some applicants astray.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Insurance Applications Picking Up In Wisconsin
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, 136 people completed applications for a health insurance plan sold by Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative. The number of completed applications — almost as many as the health insurer received in all of October — is a sign that the Obama administration has made headway in fixing the problems with the healthcare.gov website. But the number of completed applications — 878 as of Monday compared with 742 on Nov. 27 — indicates the challenges ahead in enrolling people for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Boulton, 12/4).  

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure Applicants In Last Stage Double In November
The number of people who are in the final stages of applying for health insurance through the state's new online insurance marketplace, has more than doubled since the beginning of November according to figures released today by MNsure. Roughly 24,600 people are in the process of paying for a plan. That's up from nearly 11,000 in early November (Richert and Stawicki, 12/4).

The Star Tribune: MNsure Applications Double As State Works To Fix Glitches
More than 71,000 people applied for insurance on MNsure as of Nov. 30 — up from more than 31,000 at the end of October. Some 48,724 sought coverage from private insurers, and the rest were applying for the state’s public programs, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. Fewer have taken the next step — completing enrollment and selecting a payment method. That tally is now 24,586 — with the great majority eligible for public programs; only 4,478 people have enrolled in private individual plans (Olson, 12/5).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Boomers Dominate Health Sign-Ups
Baby boomers are signing up for Colorado’s health exchange at much higher numbers than the so-called “young invincibles” who are critical to the success of health reform. Colorado’s health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, this week released basic demographic data for the first time since the exchange opened on Oct. 1. Of the 9,980 people who signed up for health insurance in the first two months, 6 percent are ages 18 to 25. Another 11 percent are 26 to 34 years old. Most health analysts define “young invincibles” as people younger than 30. But even including young people through age 34, only 17 percent of sign-ups so far are coming from people ages 18 to 34. Meanwhile, older adults ages 55 to 64 accounted for 43 percent of people who bought plans in October and November (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/4).

Los Angeles Times: Rep. Janice Hahn Calls On State GOP To Take Down ‘Fake’ Obamacare Site
A website run by California Assembly Republicans has come under fire this week, with critics alleging it misleads visitors about the Affordable Care Act and one Democratic congresswoman calling for it to be taken down. The Assembly GOP Caucus says the website, coveringhealthcareca.com, is meant to be a resource for Californians looking for more information on the new healthcare law and insurance exchange (Mason, 12/4).

The Sacramento Bee: California Lawmaker Seeks Investigation Of Republican Health Care Website
Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, became the latest California Democrat to assail a website he says Assembly Republicans created to amplify critiques of the law, rather than help Californians enroll in insurance via Covered California, the state's newly operational exchange. Gomez has sent the Assembly Rules Committee a letter asking them to investigate. In a statement released earlier Wednesday, California Democratic Party Chair John Burton said the website demonstrated "Republicans in California have no qualms about following their national Party's lead when it comes to spreading misinformation about the Affordable Care Act” (White, 12/4).

California Healthline: 96% Of Californians Picked Just Four Health Plans Through Covered California. Are Small Plans Getting Squeezed Out?
That data point's taken from a Covered California release that offers some of the first insight into the makeup of early enrollees through the exchange and which plans they're picking. And while it's hardly fair to directly compare the two issuers -- Anthem has a presence in all 19 of Covered California's regions, whereas Valley is only offering plans in Santa Clara County -- the contrast is eye-catching. It's also telling. The biggest players, so far, are getting enormous market share from Covered California's customers. The smaller plans are seeing a trickle (Diamond, 12/4).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): PR Tab Of $118,000 Included Push To Control Board
Colorado’s health exchange has paid nearly $120,000 this year for outside PR advice that included discouraging members of the oversight board from talking about the exchange as it launched. So far this year, Connect for Health Colorado has paid about $118,100 to the Denver firm, OnSight Public Affairs. A contract between the exchange and the firm calls for $15,000 per month in payments from September through November, $13,000 a month from April through August and $9,000 per month for January through March. The contract called for about 60 hours of work per month in exchange for the monthly retainers (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/4).



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