Friday Short Cuts

CEO Mario Schlosser is happy to finally be able to sell. The company started this year’s enrollment period with 17,000 members and grew to “way more than that” in the first week, he says. That represents around $85 million in annual revenue from health insurance premiums, which he says equals “a few hundred million dollars in actual health care spend.”

Oscar’s member count sounds small compared to what people have come to expect for Web startups, where anything shy of 10 million users is a flop. But 17,000 members handily beats the company’s initial goal of 7,500, Schlosser says. Oscar now claims 10% market share for the health care exchange in New York, its home market. Two weeks ago, Oscar began selling in New Jersey. The company has plans to expand into California and Texas in late 2015.

More than half of 2014 Cover Oregon enrollees were previously uninsured, and those who were insured went on the state exchange to find more affordable plans, according to a study from the Center for Outcomes Research and Education at Providence Health.

The results of the study, commissioned by Cover Oregon, were shared with legislators in the Oregon State Capitol on Monday.

Colorado's health insurance exchange has spent millions more on vendors than what they were initially contracted for, and in some cases made payments without proper documentation, according to a scathing state audit released Monday that reviewed expenditures of federal funds.

In all, auditors found problems with 35 of the 92 payments and contracts they sampled during their examination of how Connect for Health has spent nearly $136.5 million in federal grants to implement an insurance marketplace under the nation's new health care law. The exchange has been awarded $177.7 million in federal money, so Connect for Health is expected to get $41.2 million more in grants.

In the latest installment of its nasty breakup with Oracle America over the state's health insurance exchange website, Oregon will scrap its beleaguered Medicaid enrollment project and replace it with a system built by Kentucky, state officials told lawmakers Monday.

"The goal is ...we will no longer be relying on Oracle technology," said state Medicaid Director Judy Mohr Peterson in a hearing of the House Interim Committee on Health Care.

...despite increased access to chronic disease care under the ACA, Californians still struggle with access to specialists and certain prescription drugs, according to the Center for Health Reporting/"State of Health."

Garry Maisel -- CEO of Western Health Advantage, which is offering health plans through Covered California -- added that the state insurance exchange, as well as individual insurers, have not provided adequate provider lists to consumers for exchange plans.

While this is the first year small businesses throughout Washington state can buy employees health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the new health plans aren't drawing much interest.

Statewide and nationally, not many small businesses are signing up for the Small Business Health Options Program, known as SHOP, through either Healthcare.gov or state-based insurance exchanges such as the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website, Healthplanfinder.

A federal report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office in November and at least one major insurer in Washington state cite undersized tax credits, a confusing enrollment process and no real cost difference between SHOP plans and non-SHOP plans as just some of the reasons for a lack of interest.