Healthcare.gov enrollments surge following site fixes
The fix is in: After an intensive six-week effort to de-bug healthcare.gov, the Obama administration has announced that in the first two days of December, the site posted more exchange enrollees than during all of October.
About 29,000 people were able to purchase health plans via healthcare.gov on Dec. 1 and 2 alone, compared to 26,000 in October, Bloomberg reports.
On Dec. 1, the government said it had at last met its goals for making the site fully functional for most users in the 36 states that depend on it for its exchange enrollment.
Major insurers dominate enrollments through Covered California
A new report from the website California Healthline reveals that 96% of Californians who bought health coverage in October through Covered California heavily favored large insurers, with just four plans dominating enrollments. CH’s analysis of October enrollment for Covered California shows:
- 28% of customers picked Anthem plans.
- 26% picked Kaiser Permanente plans.
- 26% picked Blue Shield of California plans.
- 16% picked Health Net plans.
According to CH, large carriers dominated the California exchange for three main reasons:
1. Name recognition. Anthem Blue Cross enrolled nearly 1,600 through Covered California in October; Valley Health Plan? Five. Shoppers lacked true comparison resources (see No. 3) to evaluate smaller, less familiar plans, so they seem to have defaulted to recognizable names.
2. Returning ex-customers. Plan officials say more than 10% of the new enrollees are former customers, as they re-purchase plans that were previously terminated for not meeting minimum benefits guidelines under health care reform.
3. Technical difficulties. Covered California hasn’t suffered the same enrollment glitches and delays as healthcare.gov. On the flip side, though, the site hasn’t posted plan quality ratings so that buyers could make apples-to-apples comparisons that might have otherwise led them to select smaller plans.
This week’s hidden gem: 10 traits of effective health care price transparency tools
The website Becker’s Hospital Review recently published a list compiled by nonprofit advocacy organization Catalyst for Payment Reform that details 10 features of successful health cost transparency products. Some of them are gimmes, like making sure such tools are simple and attractive to use, easily integrated with other comparison products, and clearly define ways consumers can save money.
Others, though, are less intuitive, like helping people understand their share of costs and their health care spending and utilization. Those are difficult concepts that seem to fly in the face of CPR’s first piece of advice: making tools easy to use.
Perhaps that’s why cost transparency tools—at least consumer-friendly, widely used ones—are so few and far between.