KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Healthcare.gov: It’s Getting Better All The Time — But System Flaws, Failures Persist

Some states and insurers are contemplating alternatives if the website isn't ready by a critical December deadline. Meanwhile, just as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was talking up the website in Florida, it crashed before her eyes.  

The New York Times: Applicants Find Health Website Is Improving, But Not Fast Enough
Despite weeks of work by a small army of software experts to salvage HealthCare.gov, navigators in states that depend on the federal insurance exchange say they still cannot get most of their clients through the online enrollment process. Those navigators said they had seen improvements in the system since its disastrous rollout on Oct. 1, particularly in the initial steps of the application process. But the closer people come to signing up for a plan, the more the system seems to freeze or fail, many navigators said (Goodnough, 11/20).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Bailout Sought As Effort Planned To Bypass Site
States and insurers are already working to bail out President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, anticipating the system's online insurance exchanges may not be ready by a critical December deadline. All of the alternatives have drawbacks. ... Consumers have until Dec. 15 to buy a policy that takes effect Jan. 1. They have to enroll by March 31 to avoid the 2010 law’s penalty for people who go uncovered (Nussbaum, 11/21).

Politico: Kathleen Sebelius Watches Obamacare Website Crash
Late-night TV comics who still need material about the troubled Obamacare website should have kept an eye on what happened to HealthCare.gov when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talked up the website this week in Florida. It crashed (Levine, 11/20).

Politico: White House Email Chain Reveals Launch Fears
Top White House and health officials feared that HealthCare.gov would not work correctly and would set off a wave of bad publicity, according to emails shortly before the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare enrollment website. The emails, released Wednesday evening by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, included a picture of an error message that has become emblematic of the launch debacle. They were dated Sept. 25 — less than a week before the enrollment portal opened and immediately created a crisis for the White House (Cunningham, 11/21).

CQ HealthBeat: Consumers Union Says It Isn't Warning People Away From Healthcare.Gov
A Consumers Union official said Wednesday that her organization is not warning people away from healthcare.gov for security reasons. The official issued that clarification amid heightened concern on Capitol Hill about the ability of the federal website to protect visitors against identity theft (Reichard, 11/20).

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