END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Purging the In Box 6: MORE ACA stories I can't do full write-ups on

Worst. Socialized. Medicine. Ever.

Obamacare may not have played as great a role on Election Day as predicted, but President Obama's signature legislation has assumed a larger than anticipated role somewhere else this fall: health-sector stock performance.

As third-quarter earnings reports roll in, the improvement in profits that hospitals and insurance companies attributed to the law three months ago as being maybe no more than a one-time pop are looking more durable.

"People are coming around to the idea that maybe it's good,'' said Les Funtleyder, portfolio manager at New York hedge fund Esquared Asset Management and a former Wall Street health-care analyst. "Maybe it's not a flash in the pan but a theme going forward."

People spend less time thinking about their own health than buying a new car:

During open enrollment, people can sign onto their employer’s health care benefits plan, or, if they’re already enrolled, change plan options. For most companies with a fiscal year ending Dec. 31, open enrollment runs from late October to late November. 

However, between drinking pumpkin spice lattes and making Thanksgiving plans, many employees apparently are too busy to care. 

Nearly half (46 percent) of U.S. workers spend 30 minutes or less considering benefits options during open enrollment, according to a recent Aflac report. That’s far less than the 10 hours U.S. consumers spend shopping for a new car, or the five hours they spend researching mortgages or planning vacations, according to the report. 

CONNECTICUT: Yes, some policies will be cancelled this year for ACA non-compliance:

about 60,000 Connecticut residents were able to continue plans that didn’t meet the health law’s requirements, either because the plans pre-dated Obamacare’s passage or because they were purchased or renewed before the start of this year. Now nearly all of those residents are likely to be in the market for new coverage for 2015 -- and some will face "sticker shock," as Tracy calls it.

LOUISIANA: Most unexpected Southern paper op-ed headline of the day: "La. still better off with 'Obamacare'"

The insurers have cited higher costs from greater utilization of health care services by people for whom they were formerly less accessible. But those costs will also be lower over time as more citizens are insured, which is another reason to support expanded coverage. In Louisiana, as across the country, greater numbers of people enrolled on the health insurance exchange than had been expected. But many of the uninsured did not, no doubt because of negative media coverage and the lack of support by state officials.

Given that Louisiana has the third highest rate of uninsured people in the nation, and that we rate 49th in poor health outcomes, we should support Obamacare, not fight it.

FLORIDA: Navigators confident about ability to spike enrollment numbers:

Advocates don't expect it will be difficult to find many more to enroll in a state where an estimated 22 percent of those under 64 lack coverage.

"Even when we went into the last open enrollment period, the question was, how are we going to find them? We didn't have much difficulty," said Jodi Ray, project director for Florida Covering Kids & Families. "I think we still have a ways to go before we get to the point where we're not able to find uninsured folks that need health coverage."

How one contractor is preparing for the second round of the Affordable Care Act

For Reston-based contractor Maximus, the 2013 launch of the Act was a learning experience, said Eric Rubin, president of the company’s health-care operations division.

Maximus operated customer help-lines for health-care exchanges in five states, including Maryland as well as the District (Virginia relies on the federally run exchange). The company has a $25 million contract with the District’s exchange and a $36 million contract with Maryland’s exchange.

NEW MEXICO: Health exchange hires companies to promote campaign

The New Mexico's Health Insurance Exchange has hired three New Mexico firms and a company from Minnesota to promote its Be Well New Mexico campaign.

The Garrity Group Public Relations, K2MD Health, Research + Polling and Bluespire Marketing will provide public relations/communications, advertising, research and website/digital design services, according to a news release issued by the exchange.

MINNESOTA: GOP huffs & puffs but can't blow MNsure down:

In the months leading up to this year's elections, Republican leaders made a point to target MNsure, the state's online insurance website.

...The Legislative panel that oversees Minnesota's online health insurance exchange meets Wednesday for the last time before Republicans take majority control of the Minnesota House.

But as much as members of the GOP frequently criticize MNsure — and promise much more scrutiny of the exchange during the session that begins in January — with a Democratic governor and Senate still in place, big changes in MNsure remain unlikely.

IDAHO: More than 50,000 have already visited new ACA exchange:

There's a lot of interesting info in this profile of Your Health Idaho (which is noteworthy because 1) it's the only state moving off of HC.gov for #OE2 and 2) it's a red state with a completely GOP-controlled administration doing so). However, there's two data points I think are worth noting in particular:

...About 76,000 Idahoans signed up for private coverage at healthcare.gov, one of the most successful enrollments in any state.

...Idaho is using $35 million in federal money to build its exchange seeking to help 165,000 residents buy coverage. Will it be worth it?

This makes it sound as though Idaho is targeting a more than 100% increase in #OE2 QHP enrollments, although this is more likely just referring to the total potential pool of enrollees (which KFF.org had pegged at 182K last year).

Equally interesting, however, is the high level of interest...although "50K using it" probably includes anyone who's visited the exchange website, which would include myself here in Michigan:

“This is an Idaho solution,” he said. The exchange launched a “window shopping” feature on Oct. 1 so people could compare plans before open enrollment begins on Nov. 15. More than 50,000 people have already used it.