KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

‘Navigators’ To Play Pivotal Role Helping Consumers Sign Up For Health Insurance

Roll Call reports that many of the people who sign up for insurance through the exchange might face language barriers or may never have had coverage before. Also, CQ HealthBeat reports that Web-based insurance brokers want "a place at the table."

Roll Call: 'Navigators' Of State Health Insurance Exchanges Prepare To Help Applicants
When enrollment in the health care law’s new insurance exchanges opens in October, the prospects for success will turn on a crucial element: people who actually understand health insurance coverage and can explain it in plain language to consumers. Many Americans who will be signing up may never have had insurance in the past or aren’t fluent in English or might have trouble figuring out which plan will be best for their pocketbook and health condition (Norman, 5/13).

CQ HealthBeat: Web-Based Insurance Brokers Seek A Place At The Exchange Table
Web-based insurance agents and brokers are pushing hard to be part of health insurance exchanges, saying that their experience in selling to consumers online will boost outreach efforts by the Obama administration. How well they will succeed is not yet clear, and consumer advocates say it’s advisable for government officials to closely monitor any involvement of the Web-based insurers to be certain that they are not steering consumers to the companies’ preferred products (Norman, 5/13).

Meanwhile, news outlets report on exchange developments in D.C., Minnesota and Kansas.

The Washington Post: D.C. Nears Decision On Health Insurance Exchange
The D.C. Council could decide as soon as next week whether to require small-business owners to purchase their employee health insurance through a city-run exchange, highlighting a special implication of the federal health-care overhaul that has been strongly opposed by some business interests (DeBonis, 5/13).

MPR News: Small Business Wonder What Health Overhaul Has In Store For Them
Organizations representing small business have been among the sharpest critics of the federal health care overhaul. But the opposition is not universal. Some small business owners in Minnesota hope they'll find new health insurance options thanks to the law and MNSURE, the new state new online insurance marketplace it created (Stawicki, 5/13).

Kansas Health Institute: New Medicaid Enrollment System Remains On Track
The building of a new Kansas Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system intended to be interoperable with the new federal health insurance marketplace remains on budget, according to the state's project overseer. But the system's connection to the federal insurance exchange could miss the Oct. 1 timeline, if federal officials don't pick up the pace on their end (Shields, 5/13).

Also in the news -

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Faith Leaders To Gather For Summit To Learn About New Health Options
Maryland faith leaders will be gathering for a summit to learn more about new health insurance options under the federal health care overhaul. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua Sharfstein is scheduled to speak at Tuesday's event in Baltimore (5/13).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.