It has been 10 weeks since Obamacare’s health insurance marketplaces went live for a nation full of expectations, hopes, and needs. Needless to say, everything did not go as planned, and the enrollments, health plans, administration—really everyone took a hit. However, the administration did not shy away from the glaring challenges and humiliation of healthcare.gov, and resolved to get things better for the country and itself. Now, after 10 weeks of jostling with a failing strategy, the administration finally has some developments it can hold strong in front of the opposition and a disappointed nation.

The last couple of weeks in this journey toward fixing the struggling marketplace have revolved around two main pillars – enrollments and backoffice issues. These aspects are two sides of the same coin, linked to each other closely, with one influencing the performance of the other. Let’s break down the developments in each of them, one by one, and see how they are influencing the performance of the exchanges.

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The Obama administration promised a fully operational health insurance marketplace by the end of November. More than the promise, it was necessary for the government to deliver a sustainable insurance exchange that can stand the deluge of Americans just waiting to pounce on it for enrolling before December 23, the extended deadline for signing up for insurance that kicks in on January 1, 2014.

The Good News – Week #7

Let’s start with the improvements made by the website. Since our last update , the healthcare.gov website has considerably improved. It has now fixed major stability issues and is allowing people to get on the system, submit their applications, apply for subsidies, and exit. The newfound smoothness in the site is attracting many more people. According to the available numbers, the enrollments have increased about three times the amount from earlier weeks. Another improvement is in the processing of information, with backroom error rates going down and showing a major improvement. However, that’s all that has been done till now. From a different perspective, this is not that good.

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By now, it is very clear that the health insurance marketplaces have had some glitches. To add to the confusion, health payers have started issuing cancellation letters to thousands of Americans whose insurance policies do not comply with the Affordable Care Act, and will expire at the end of the year. This additional issue on the already stumbling healthcare.gov website is making matters worse for the Obama administration.

As the ‘tech surge’ for fixing healthcare.gov goes into full steam, Obama administration has another plan up its sleeve – to allow consumers to stay on their existing plans and get them renewed, even if they don’t fully comply with the Obamacare mandates. These plans can stay active for an additional, giving Obama stalwarts enough room to fix the broken parts fully and get the exchange live without any hassles.

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Nearly a month and a half after the health insurance marketplace rollout, the federal exchange is still reeling. The underperforming, broken healthcare.gov site is making life tough for the Obama administration. However, the site is starting to make progress, and the government is committed to delivering an error-free, smooth experience to Americans.

However, in the midst of this chaos and its impact on various demographics, there is a particular group that stands ignored – the self-employed. Among a delayed employee mandate, individual insurance talks, and Medicaid expansion discussion, no one is really paying attention to this major chunk of the national population. Here, we discuss the seven questions, and their answers, which will help self-employed sail through the tumultuous times of Obamacare rollout.

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As we go through the fifth week of the Obamacare rollout, not much has changed in the health insurance marketplace sphere. Although healthcare.gov has not substantially improved, minor improvements have trickled in. Enrollments are picking up, but the numbers are still nothing to boast about, especially when compared to the projected numbers given before the marketplaces went live. So, what are the challenges being faced by the administration and healthcare industry, and what are the action points for the government to iron out these challenges? Let’s find out.

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The problems surrounding health insurance marketplaces do not seem to be abating. Last week was wrought with more issues, some of which were not wholly unexpected. However, all is not lost for Obamacare yet. There has been some good news as well. Let’s take a look at what has been happening in and around the exchanges, the major challenges that the government has been dealing with, and the pieces of good news that have been trickling in throughout last week.

What’s troubling the Government?

• Healthcare.gov site is riddled with bugs and errors that are affecting enrollments and preventing people from signing up. The situation went way out of control a few weeks ago when on a Sunday night one of the vendors that service the site suffered a major failure. The website was rendered offline, causing the browsing and signing up process to suffer across the nation.

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hCentive executive will be speaking on private exchange requirements in this retail centric marketplace world.

RESTON, VA – November 18, 2013: hCentive, the leader in ACA health insurance exchange technology, announced today one of its executives, Rajeev Mudumba, will be speaking during AHIP Operations and Technology Forum being held from November 18 through 20,, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

Rajeev Mudumba, VP of Products at hCentive, will speak on Wednesday, November 20 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.. His topic “Private Exchanges in a Retail-Centric Marketplaces World” will provide attendees with insights on how to set private exchange strategy in these changing times.

While much attention has focused on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) and state-based exchanges, larger growth will come from private exchanges. Research studies have predicted that up to 40 million people will enroll in private exchanges by 2018. It is time to determine your strategy. This session will serve as a roadmap on what your private exchange needs should be to succeed in this new world of health marketplaces. Our speaker will provide insight on how you can formulate a multi-market strategy and which ancillary services options should be included.

AHIP Operations and Technology Forum focuses on bringing health plan leaders and other stakeholders together to discuss the operational and technical needs facing plans as the new health insurance marketplace evolves.

“Some people thought that the Oct. 1 launch would be the hard part but what we are finding is that the challenges facing our clients continue to increase. Our presentation focuses on helping organizations be successful with their private exchange strategy, ” said Manoj Agarwala, President & Chief Operating Officer of hCentive. “We are very pleased to be speaking and exhibiting at AHIP Operations & Technology Forum and encourage attendees to attend our session.”

 

About hCentive:
hCentive is in the business of simplifying the complex world of health insurance. hCentive provides technology solutions for health insurers and state health agencies. These solutions help them reduce cost and administrative complexity, while enhancing relationships with their customers.

hCentive is the first organization to build an exchange solution from the ground-up post the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). hCentive has developed a deep understanding of healthcare reform and has crafted solutions and services that align with federal and state regulations and meet or exceed all industry standards.

The hCentive WebInsure Medicare platform helps health insurers cost-effectively acquire and manage Medicare and small business customers. The hCentive WebInsure Private Exchange solution allows health plans to offer defined contribution plan marketplace to small business customers. The WebInsure State platform helps states create a health benefits exchange to comply with health insurance exchange requirements of the PPACA. The WebInsure Exchange Manager provides a complete connectivity solution for health plans to connect to State Exchanges.

As the administration works toward fixing healthcare.gov, there is another crucial part of the health insurance marketplace enrollments that hasn’t received a lot of attention – navigators. As it was widely expected, navigators have played a large role in helping people enroll. With the system experiencing issues, more people than expected have turned to the navigators for help.

Unfortunately for the navigators, there were some unforeseen issues that are hampering the ability of the navigators to do their job.

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After a rough start, healthcare.gov (the Federally Facilitated Marketplace) is beginning to experience a bit of a recovery. Although the launch was plagued with system crashes, non-availability and incorrect subsidy calculations, things are finally starting to look up.

According to the government, millions of enrollments were expected in the initial stages of the health reform rollout. Projections indicated that nearly half a million enrollments were expected within the first 30 days. However, enrollments were a lot lower than the projections. The problem was not limited to the site usability; it was also about the data that was being sent by the system. Several health plans experienced incorrect enrollments, missing information and individuals enrolling in multiple plans. The end result was incorrect data in the system and failed enrollments.  On the other hand, the states that opted to run their own exchanges were performing better but still dealing with less than expected enrollments.

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While information has been trickling out on the various state exchanges, Missouri has continued to stay quiet right up to the launch. As the state lawmakers, and then voters, voted rejected a state-run exchange, Missouri is among the many states that chose to leave it to the federal government to handle.

While efforts to publicize the exchange have faced strong opposition, there have been some initiatives put in place to help increase the public’s knowledge on the exchange.

•    Private organizations and individuals are conducting FAQ and Question & Answer Sessions on the exchange for individuals. For instance, FOX 2 recently aired a Q&A session that consisted of top industry experts and served as a platform for helping people clear their doubts about ACA. This one-hour special helped people learn more about the health reform that is going to impact their lives. Similarly, through the face of private organizations and nonprofit associations, the state will receive the required information.

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