MedCity Influencers

5 things we have learned about health insurance exchanges so far

Day 1 of the healthcare exchanges was not a stellar start. We saw all the glitches that everyone from the President on down predicted. Launch day did offer a few lessons which state and federal leaders should consider. 1. There is considerable public interest in the new health insurance marketplace. According to the White House, […]

Day 1 of the healthcare exchanges was not a stellar start. We saw all the glitches that everyone from the President on down predicted.

Launch day did offer a few lessons which state and federal leaders should consider.

1. There is considerable public interest in the new health insurance marketplace. According to the White House, more than one million people had attempted to use the federal health insurance exchange before 7:00 a.m. ET.

2. Prices vary widely not only from state to state but even within a state. For example, a 35 year-old male nonsmoker from Massachusetts shopping for an entry-level Bronze Plan had options ranging from $192.66 a month to $375.83. Nearby Connecticut, in comparison, had premiums start higher for this applicant profile but cap at a lower ceiling with a premium range of $241.85 to $299.93.

3. Technical problems and feature outages were experienced both in the federal exchange as well as several state exchanges. By 3:00 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon, the federal exchange and various state exchanges (such as Idaho, Maryland, and Minnesota) were not successfully displaying health plan comparisons.

4. Anonymous shopping was the exception rather than the norm. The federal exchange serving 36 states had an account creation process and application form required before insurance plans could be compared. When customer service was called, the representative said that he believed the the application process needed to be completed step-by-step prior to comparing health insurance plans.

5. Phone support fared better than online functionality at the federal health insurance exchange. While the online functionality of the federal health insurance exchange experienced repeated technical difficulties during the day, the toll-free customer support number was operational. An afternoon call to the number resulted in access to a live representative after five minutes on hold.

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