Stakes Are High For Rollout Of Health Exchanges

An estimated 7 million people will shop for individual health coverage this fall in the new online health insurance marketplaces, with another 2 million seeking coverage through the law's small business program. Federal and state officials are working full tilt to have them ready in time.

Reuters: Obamacare 1.0: States Brace For Web Barrage When Reform Goes Live
About 550,000 people in Oregon do not have health insurance, and Aaron Karjala is confident the state's new online insurance exchange will be able to accommodate them when enrollment under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform begins on October 1. ... Multiply that by another 49 states and the District of Columbia, all of which will open health insurance exchanges under "Obamacare" that same day, and you get some idea of what could go publicly and disastrously wrong (Begley, 6/30).

The Hill: GOP Warns Of 'Train Wreck' Ahead Of ObamaCare Rollout
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) warned of a coming "train wreck" when enrollment begins in ObamaCare insurance exchanges this fall in the Republican weekly address. Roberts, an outspoken opponent of President Obama's healthcare reforms, said that important questions remain before the exchanges, part of what he called a "massive federal government takeover," go into effect in October (Jaffe, 6/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Insurance Costs Set For A Jolt
Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year, while the premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of coverage to be sold on the law's new exchanges (Radnofsky, 6/30).

Medpage Today: Insurers, States Brace For Opening Of ACA Exchanges
An estimated 7 million people will shop for individual health coverage this fall under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with another 2 million seeking coverage through the law's small business program. And by 2023, 24 million people will purchase insurance through the 2010 law's health insurance exchanges, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. With numbers like that involved, it's no secret the operation of the ACA's insurance exchanges -- sometimes called marketplaces -- is critical to the law's success. With numbers so large, it's also been a monumental task for the Obama administration and the states to get the exchanges off the ground (Pittman, 6/28).

News outlets also offer views on how the exchanges might work in specific states or regions -

Kaiser Health News: Thousands Of Mississippi Consumers May Not Be Offered Insurance Subsidies
Tens of thousands of uninsured residents in the poorest and most rural parts of Mississippi may be unable to get subsidies to buy health coverage when a new online marketplace opens this fall because private insurers are avoiding a wide swath of the state. No insurer is offering to sell plans through the federal health law's marketplaces in 36 of the state's 82 counties, including some of the poorest parts of the Delta region, said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney (Appleby and Hancock, 6/29).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Setbacks Could Hit Region's Small Businesses
Some state and federal officials are falling behind setting up new health-insurance exchanges for small businesses, which could leave employers in the region waiting longer than expected for the competitive pricing they were promised under the health-care law. The Government Accountability Office has warned that federal and state officials still have a long way to go in "a relatively short amount of time” to set up the new online marketplaces, called exchanges, where small-business owners will be able to shop for health plans from various insurance providers (Harrison, 6/30).

MPR News: MNSURE Spreading The Word Via Social Media
Minnesota's new online health insurance marketplace, MNSURE, is turning to social media to inform consumers about its progress toward a launch this fall. More than a million Minnesotans are projected to obtain health insurance online through MNSURE, which will allow consumers to comparison shop for health coverage starting Oct. 1. In the meantime, consumers can turn to several social media outlets for updates (Stawicki, 6/30).

Medpage Today: California Leading From The Left In ACA Implementation
The Affordable Care Act hasn't really hit home yet for physicians in California, but the state is one of the most prepared for the next phase of implementation coming in January. … The state has the nation's largest health insurance market and 5.6 million uninsured, representing 18 percent of residents under 65, according to federal and state estimates. … California is one of only 16 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has opted to run its own ACA-mandated exchange for individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage next year. And while the federally-run exchanges are behind schedule and some states appear to be too, California's consumer insurance marketplace, called Covered California, appears to be on target for open enrollment to begin in October (Phend, 6/28).

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