CleaningOutTheInBox-apalooza!!!

Things have been so crazy this week between the horrific midterm election results and today's unexpected SCOTUS/King/Halbig announcement that once again, my in box is crammed full, so here's some quick takes:

  • First up: PolitiFact debunks one big ol' steaming pile of crap:

Chain email claims 214,000 doctors refuse to take patients with insurance bought on marketplaces

...A chain email claimed that more than 214,000 American doctors are "opting-out of Obamacare exchange plans." That is based on a survey of a select group of doctors and even the makers of the survey said it can’t be extrapolated for the entire country. Further, of the doctors responding to the survey, 42 percent said they weren’t participating in marketplace plans because they were never asked to, not because they were "opting out."

The estimate is the result of a flawed methodology and a misreading of survey data. We rate the claim False.

  • Next up: Just in the nick of time...

Oregon’s transition to federal exchange on track

Deloitte will also create a new website - OregonHealthCare.gov - that won’t enroll people, but will redirect Oregonians to HealthCare.gov. The transition to HealthCare.gov has been glitch-free so far.

“Overall the project is on track, it’s going well,” said Tina Edlund, the stateadministrator  in charge of overseeing the transition.

Oregon’s 15 insurance carriers have already uploaded their plan information, cost-sharing information, and premium data  to HealthCare.gov, Edlund said. The carriers are currently undergoing end-to-end testing; none have reported experiencing any problems. The federal government also has updated HealthCare.gov to include language specific to Oregon.

I should note that Oregon and Nevada, both of which are moving their respective enrollment backends onto Healthcare.Gov due to ugly technical problems, appear to be ideal models for my "Denny's Grand Slam" solution to a potential Halbig/King SCOTUS decision which I was talking about back in July and again this morning.

  • Speaking of technical improvements on the exchanges...

Under construction: D.C. Health Link offline for last-minute upgrades before open enrollment

D.C. Health Link is offline for customers and brokers alike from this evening through Friday morning as the District's health insurance marketplace is upgraded before open enrollment, officials said.

...Among the upgrades:

  • Easier to make life changes
  • Automatic renewal
  • Network information for the SHOP exchange
  • More information about health plan options
  • Colorado also claims significant feature/technical improvements for #OE2:

Colorado health-insurance exchange promises slicker 2nd enrollment

The second time around, open enrollment on the state health-insurance exchange site will be a friendlier, simpler process, officials promise, yet skeptics and questions remain.

Connect for Health Colorado's website will include a streamlined single-application format, helpful consumer tools, and even an avatar/guide named "Kyla."

The website, a shared system with Medicaid, goes live Nov. 10, a few days ahead of the national Nov. 15-Feb. 15 dates for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. While applications for insurance won't be submitted to carriers until Nov. 15, consumers can get an early start doing everything they need to enroll, said Marcia Benshoof, the exchange's chief strategy and sales officer.

...Officials say it will be easier to shop this year. And their goal is to increase the number of people ensured through the exchange from 148,000 to 194,000.

...New tools that will make things easier for consumers to find the best plan for them include a simpler tax-credit estimator, plan and provider finders and, by Nov. 15, medication look-ups called formularies.

  • Regarding Healthcare.Gov, here's an interesting look at the technical challenges for #OE2:

Accenture 'confident' about open enrollment

As CMS Deputy CIO Henry Chao revealed in a congressional hearing last October, those systems were not built in time for the website's launch, and their delay has meant that insurance issuers had to find manual workarounds for a variety of functions, most notably risk adjustment and reinsurance calculations that were designed to protect carriers in the early years of the program.

Some of those functions are being rolled out for the current open-enrollment season, and Tait said Accenture is especially proud of the "edge solution," which allows big carriers to run the software on their own servers while smaller operations can access the system via the Amazon cloud.

Insurance carriers also use the system to manage plans and determine which ones meet the health care law's coverage requirements. Accenture re-architected the plan-submission process and automated a reporting function that alerts insurance carriers to potential problems. That automation helped increase the number of plans available via HealthCare.gov by 33 percent, according to Tait.

Well, if the Supreme Court does end up ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Halbig/King, at least any state which does decide to slap together their own "shell" exchange portal (while leaving the actual enrollment functionality to the feds) can take comfort in knowing that the difference between HC.gov last fall and this year should be like night and day.

  • Finally, a fascinating look at the marketing efforts behind #OE2 (which also happens to cite, ahem, me):

PPACA exchange season: Brokers respond

...few question whether the exchange system is a marketing force to be reckoned with.

The glitch-plagued exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and various state-based organization offer moderate-income consumers access to PPACA premium subsidies that can cut the enrollee's share of the cost of major medical coverage to pennies per day. At ACASignups.net, Charles Gaba has estimated that the public exchange system may have persuaded almost 10 million Americans to sign up for coverage, and about 8.2 million to pay for coverage.

The exchange system is getting ready to start its second annual open enrollment period Nov. 15, and many producers are launching campaigns that tie in to the hoopla the public exchanges hope to generate.

Earlier, we looked at an early tie-in TV commercial.

Here's a look at some of the Web-based open enrollment tie-in marketing efforts now operating out in the field.