Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Substandard Plans" Offered by "Bad Apple Insurers"––Does the Obama Administration Understand How the Health Insurance Market Works?

Yesterday, the President said in Boston that the millions of people who are getting cancellation letters ending their coverage in the individual health insurance market are being saved from "substandard plans" that were sold to them by "bad apple insurers."

I guess these would be the same insurers his staff invited to the White House last week. In their statement following that meeting, the White House said they were "committed to working in partnership with the insurers" toward implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

So, this is how he treats his "partners."

Are health insurance plans in the individual market substandard?

Not the overwhelming bulk of them.

How do I know that?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mr. President: I like My Health Insurance and I Would Really Like to Keep It––Can You Help Me Out Here?

How many times have I talked on this Blog about rate shock, the millions of people who would be getting cancellation letters from their current health plan, and the problem of people having to put up with more narrow networks?

And, how many times have those predictions been met by push back and spin: Today's policies are just junk and people will be better off finding lower cost health insurance under Obamacare.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Commitment to Fix Obamacare's Computer Systems By December 1––Because It Can Be Done By Then or Because It Has To Be Done By Then?

The good news is that it appears the adults are finally in charge of healthcare.gov.

This week, the administration put a seasoned and trusted manager in charge of getting the Obamacare computer system working––Jeff Zients.

He quickly announced a methodical approach to the problem and that he had appointed one contractor to coordinate the daily work. Zients also appeared to be pretty open and honest about what's really going on.

All things that should have happened in the first place.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just What Is an 834 Transaction? Why Is It Holding Up Obamacare? How Long Will This Take to Fix?

You have probably already heard that Obamacare has as many backroom problems as problems with the front end consumer web enrollment portal.

Insurance companies participating in the new health insurance exchanges are receiving detailed enrollment information for each of the very few people who have successfully enrolled through the 36 federally run health insurance exchanges.

But the problem is that this enrollment is coming from the government with a very high rate of errors––way beyond anything they can handle manually once the real enrollment volume comes in.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchanges––Week Three Status Report

I will be happy to have the Obama Administration do these status reports anytime they would like to takeover from me.

If I were in the White House spinning, I could report to you that enrollment in states run by the federal exchanges jumped 50% in the last few days.

Health plans that might have told me last week that they had enrolled 400 people since October 1 are now telling me they had a "surge" in enrollment in recent days and are up to 600 people. I guess that takes us up to a trickle and a half.

Still, small health plans are generally reporting they have received dozens of enrollments and large health plans are no higher than in the hundreds.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Should the Administration Shut the Obamacare Computer System Down? That Depends Upon What's Going On Behind the Curtain

My sense is that the biggest reason Obamacare is now in trouble is because of the top-secret way in which the administration has handled the rollout. If they had developed the computer system in a transparent way, the marketplace would have told them long ago this would not work.

No one outside the inner circle at the Department of Health and Human Services has any idea what's really going on behind the Wizard's curtain. Hasn't for months. Doesn't now.

For Those of You Who Yesterday Didn't Believe My Federal Exchange Enrollment Estimates and Reports of Backroom Problems...

You need to see today's Wall Street Journal front-page story, "Health Website Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data."

Here's an excerpt:
After realizing that some applications listed up to three spouses in a single family, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska, which has about 50 health-law enrollees, had to "stop those enrollments from going through the automated process," said Matt Leonard, the insurer's sales manager. "It takes an automated process and turns it into a manual process," he said.
The biggest health plan in Nebraska has 50 enrollees so far? A state with about 300,000 uninsured.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Week Two of the Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchange Rollout––No Improvement

There was no progress for the new federal health insurance exchange's information technology and enrollment challenges in its second week.

At the end of week two of the Obamacare launch, health plans were generally seeing no more enrollments per day then they saw in the first week.

As troubling, the backroom issues plaguing the connection between health insurers and the federal government had not been resolved and there is no indication from the feds when they will have these things cleared up.

My sense is that the feds, based upon the number of enrollments they have sent to the insurance companies, enrolled about 10,000 people in the first week (about 5,000 single and family contracts) and another 10,000 people in the second week in the 36 states using the federal exchange.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Obamacare is a bit like the astronaut on top of the rocket"

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein and I spoke about the Obamacare rollout yesterday afternoon.

Here is his column from today's Washington Post:

‘Obamacare is a bit like the astronaut on top of the rocket’

By Ezra Klein, Published: October 15 at 12:38 pm

Ezra Klein: You wrote about how the problems on the back-end of the insurance portals, in the way they communicate with the systems of actual insurers, might be as bad or worse than the front-end traffic problems. What are you worried about, exactly?

Bob Laszewski: What I’m worried about is that when people go to their doctor in January they may walk in, and the doctor and hospital won’t find them in the insurer’s computer system or their bank account won’t be appropriately debited or they’ll be signed up for the wrong plan. I’m worried about all these things. Now, we have a few weeks to get this straightened out. But only a few weeks.

EK: Tell me what you’re hearing from the insurance industry that has you concerned.
Read the Rest at the Washington Post

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Many People Have Signed Up For Health Insurance on the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges?

Based upon my survey of a large number of health plans accounting for substantial market share in the 36 states the federal insurance exchange is operating in, not more than about 5,000 individuals and families (about 10,000 people in total) signed-up for health insurance in the 36 states run by the Obama administration through Monday.

It is not uncommon for a major health insurer with a large market share to report less than 100 enrollments in the first week.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What Health Insurance Company Information Technology Executives Were Saying About the Obamacare Exchanges Last February

Were there signs the Obama administration was headed for trouble getting the insurance exchanges ready for October 1, 2014?

Last March, I did a post reviewing a survey of health insurance industry information technology executives' opinions on how well the Obama administration was doing toward launching the exchanges.

The federal health insurance exchange problems that have so far been obvious have been all front-end issues--being able to get the Obamacare's consumer portal to work.

What is concerning about this March survey is that it also identified big concerns the insurance industry had, and still has, over the critically important backroom transactions yet to come.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Why the Federal Health Insurance Exchange and So Many State Exchanges Are Not Working

We may be getting a better idea why the federal exchange and so many state exchanges aren't working.

An article in Saturday's Baltimore Sun, regarding Maryland's problems, provides insight I have not seen elsewhere:

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