Initial health-plan enrollment falls below expectations

November 12, 2013 by Karen Pallarito, Healthday Reporter
Initial health-plan enrollment falls below expectations
Early reports find federal and state insurance exchanges attracted low numbers.

(HealthDay)—Fewer than 50,000 people have enrolled in health insurance through the federal HealthCare.gov website, according to published reports.

The tally represents in the troubled federal health insurance exchange from its launch date on Oct. 1 through last week, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Obama administration had expected some 500,000 people to enroll in coverage by the end of October through HealthCare.gov, according to internal memos cited by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

But slow response times, timed-out pages and bugs have snarled attempts by many Americans to complete an online application for .

The administration's information technology team, including individuals from private-sector technology companies like Oracle and Red Hat Inc., is working through a "punch list" of fixes while adding new items to the list as additional problems are discovered with the website.

HealthCare.gov serves as the insurance exchange for people in 36 states.

Separately, a report released Monday by the research and analysis firm Avalere Health LLC found that state-run health insurance exchanges are also experiencing lower-than-expected volume.

Twelve of the nation's 14 state exchanges had enrolled 49,100 people as of Nov. 10, according to the analysis. The initial count represents just 3 percent of the 1.4 million people that Avalere projects to enroll in coverage through those state exchanges by the end of 2014.

The report was based on data released by the states and for the most part extracts enrollment in Medicaid. California, which has only released the number of started applications, not completed enrollments, is not included in the analysis. Nor is Massachusetts, which established its health exchange in 2006 as part of a state health-reform initiative. It is requiring some current enrollees to reapply for coverage.

The two reports suggest that enrollment through the federal and state exchanges is sharply lagging the administration's target of 7 million people by the end of March.

The federal and state exchanges are intended to be the gateway for private health plan coverage for some 30 million uninsured Americans under the health-reform law known as the Affordable Care Act.

Administration officials are expected to release official enrollment data sometime this week.

Meanwhile, some insurance companies are pushing the administration for an end-run around the hobbled HealthCare.gov exchange to allow them to directly enroll people entitled to federal subsidies, The New York Times reported.

The Times said the administration has so far resisted the idea, because of concerns about giving insurance companies access to personal data. But, the newspaper added, senior White House officials may now be more open to ways to allowing insurers to handle more enrollments because of the federal website's technical problems.

Chris Jennings, a senior health care adviser to President Obama, said in a statement that the administration was "continuing to pursue additional avenues by which people can enroll, such as direct enrollment through , that will help meet pent-up demand," the Times reported.

State websites, overall, have experienced fewer problems than the federal exchange. Yet compared with early enrollment in Medicare's prescription drug program, which took effect in 2006, state-based enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is lagging.

"When Medicare Part D began, two-thirds of people who voluntarily enrolled in a plan did so after coverage began on Jan. 1," Avalere reported.

Explore further: Design and software problems plague health exchanges

More information: Learn how to get insurance coverage through the new health exchanges.

Related Stories

Design and software problems plague health exchanges

October 7, 2013
(HealthDay)—Problems signing up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federal website serving health exchanges in 36 states, are the result of design and software problems, The Wall Street Journal reported.

For Obama, a frustrating health care rollout (Update)

October 20, 2013
President Barack Obama is expected Monday to address the problem-plagued rollout of his signature health care legislation, which has suffered an embarrassing start with a cascade of computer problems plaguing online sign-ups ...

Sebelius admits: Health exchange launch 'rockier than we would have liked'

October 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted Wednesday that the troubled launch of the federal government's new health insurance exchange hasn't gone as planned.

Memos show slow start for health care plans

November 1, 2013
The federal government's new health care program got off to such a slow start that only six people successfully enrolled on its website the first day and only a few hundred had done so by the second day, documents released ...

Health insurance penalty delayed as federal exchange comes under fire

October 25, 2013
(HealthDay)—U.S. consumers who sign up for health insurance by March 31 won't face tax penalties for being uninsured during the first three months of 2014, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Computer glitches mar health insurance rollout

October 2, 2013
(HealthDay)—Health insurance exchanges from Florida to Hawaii got off to a rough start Tuesday as many consumers encountered long delays and computer system snafus.

Recommended for you

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.