KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

How Washington State Made Its Health Insurance Exchange Work; Philly Plans Big Exchange Push

The Wall Street Journal: State Exchanges Started Late, Clashed With Vendors
It was on a cold, sunny day in Baltimore last January that Curt Kwak, chief information officer of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, first realized that the signature feature of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act could be in trouble. ... According to Mr. Kwak, several of his peers hadn't yet selected a systems integrator -- tech vendors who play crucial roles in fitting together the multiple components of health insurance exchanges that allow consumers to select and enroll in health plans. In contrast, Mr. Kwak had had a systems integrator in place since the previous January. ... Systems integrators were key to helping states manage information from federal and private sources that weren't built to swap large volumes of data in real time (Boulton, 11/26).

Kaiser Health News: Philadelphia To Launch Health-Insurance Outreach 
Come into city offices ranging from the Free Library to the Department of Records over the next few months and you will, in theory, be asked whether you have health insurance and offered information about Obamacare, including the option of getting a call from a specialist trained in enrollment. ... Bill England, Pennsylvania director for Enroll America. "We know that we are going to come in contact with thousands of people." He said the move, in the works for months, was a creative way to provide information and was unrelated to the highly publicized woes of Healthcare.gov (Sapatkin, 11/26).

The Associated Press: S.D. Defers To Insurance Firms On Health Care Law
South Dakota will allow insurance companies to decide whether to allow a few thousand state residents to keep their health plans that otherwise would be canceled under the federal health care law. The Division of Insurance made the announcement Tuesday in response to President Barack Obama's decision Nov. 14 to give companies the option of extending policies for another year. The state still had to approve the changes (Walker, 11/27).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon's Hidden HSA Health Insurance Plans
Among Cover Oregon's current shortcomings: The online health-insurance exchange does not clearly identify plans that can be paired with a Health Savings Account. If you just browse the site, it would appear there are only four such high-deductible, HSA-qualified plans available to individual insurance buyers. Actually, there are 13, Cover Oregon officials confirm (Hunsberger, 11/26).

California Healthline: Exchange Applications, Website, Agents All Hit higher Marks In Second Month
Covered California yesterday released application statistics for the first three weeks of November, as well as updated numbers for agents, assisters and call center volume. The numbers showed significant improvement over October statistics for the state's new health insurance exchange. "We are receiving more than 10,000 applications every single day," said Peter Lee, the exchange's executive director. Through Nov. 23, the number of completed enrollment applications hit 385,556 -- a significant jump over the 179,562 applications reported as started but not all completed in October (Gorn, 11/27).

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