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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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When the Idaho health insurance marketplace, Your Health Idaho, goes live on October 1, the state will be looking at two primary aspects that will decide the health and performance of the exchange in the years to come – Idaho insurance agents and the number of enrollments on the exchange. Although these two aspects are closely related, insurance agents takes precedence.

While insurance agents and brokers have been working in Idaho for a long time, a large number have concerns on the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring. Some of those factors are:

•    The commissions and incentives insurance agents received in the past will decrease substantially once Your Health Idaho goes live. For instance, Regence BlueShield of Idaho is going to decrease the plan commission from $12 to $9.

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The big day for health insurance marketplaces, October 1, is coming and Michiganians are looking forward to it. The view is that the exchange will bring better coverage, affordable health insurance and greater benefits. Expectations are running high and Michigan organizations are gearing up for the big day. So, how’s the preparation going? Let’s take a look.

The first, crucial step is to establish a marketplace with top insurance carriers who can provide affordable health insurance and a wide range of benefits. Fourteen health insurers submitted their plans and offerings, totaling approximately 170 plans, to the Michigan government for approval. The approval process is still underway and results are expected before the second week of September.

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From a general perspective, the health insurance marketplace is going to revolutionize health insurance. But it is going to be a tough path, especially when you consider the lack of general knowledge of the exchanges and the abundance of variables. At the same time, the outlook toward these marketplaces is generally positive. But, a closer look at Florida reveals that the state could be heading toward disruption.

Florida chose not to implement its own exchange and is relying to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). The main issue in Florida is that the top health insurance organizations and some businesses have not bought in to the marketplace. Why is this happening? Here are a few reasons why all is not well in Florida health insurance market.

•    Most businesses feel that government has been slow at implementing and spreading information about FFM.  Having more of an impact, though, is that the Affordable Care Act remains a lightning rod for politicians and residents.

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As the State of Washington gears up to launch its health insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, it is facing the herculean task of signing up its uninsured population. By sheer numbers, Washington aims to insure 130,000 uninsured residents by the end of 2013, and nearly 280,000 citizens in 2014.

To achieve this goal, Washington must educate and disseminate information to residents who aren’t familiar with the marketplace. The state has decided to tackle this challenge by launching a campaign that will address all the means of communication and outreach with advertisements and promotions. The state has secured $26.3 million federal grant for such programs.

The campaign will include the following:

•    Online Advertisements The state has already started to run advertisements on Washington Healthplanfinder over popular networks, such as Google, Yahoo. The state hopes to reach insured and uninsured residents, so that people may educate each other about the program.

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The health insurance marketplaces are being setup to provide consumers with more options and more choices. The online marketplaces are intended to bring together insurance carriers and promote competition with the aim of driving costs down. When the insurance marketplace goes live on October 1, consumers will be able to choose from a variety of carriers and find a plan that fits their needs and budget. However, Hawaii residents will be dealing a less choice on the Hawaiian marketplace.

The Hawaii health insurance exchange, Hawaii Health Connector, will open with two carriers, Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. There is some concern that with only two carriers, there will be a spike in rates once the marketplace launches.  There are multiple reasons for this worrying lack of competition in the state.

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As a part of the plan to have Maryland’s health insurance exchange, Maryland Health Connection, ready on October 1, they are reaching out to an important group that can help it sail through enrollments smoothly – health insurance brokers. With the deluge of new enrollments coming in soon, Maryland knows that brokers will be instrumental in taking some of the load off the state.

After October 1, Maryland expects 80,000 residents to use and enroll with the exchange. To meet the enrollment processing deadline of January 1, 2014, the state requires the help of brokers. As of now, nearly 900 brokers are registered with Maryland Health Connection, and Maryland hopes to increase the number of brokers. In an endeavor to attract more brokers, the state is hosting free training sessions and offering other benefits to brokers who sign up.

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As the deadline for health insurance marketplace implementation approaches, New York is moving full steam ahead with healthcare software. The state recently announced the name of its health insurance marketplace, “NY State of Health,” and plans to initiate marketing initiatives to capture the attention of uninsured New Yorkers, educate them on the marketplace and get them enrolled.

NY State of Health is attracting lot of attention, particularly because of the strategies New York is using to promote the exchange. In the coming weeks, New York will release ads that will reach out to different groups in the state and help them understand the benefits of enrollment. The central focus of the state will be

•    Promoting the expected savings for New Yorkers who enroll with the health insurance exchange. It is expected that the online marketplace will bring in benefits for uninsured Americans, and as many as 1 million Americans can expect a savings of up to 53 percent if they enroll in the new system.

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Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, is schedule and Colorado knows what’s coming on the October 1 launch – a deluge of new enrollments. Colorado is expecting about 150,000 residents to sign up for health insurance coverage during the first enrollment period. Some number crunching reveals a strenuous task – Colorado officials will have to enroll 800 applicants a day in the first six month enrollment period to meet this new demand for health insurance.

Surprisingly, this is just a glimpse into the mammoth task that awaits the state health insurance marketplace of Colorado. It is expected that this number will continue to multiply. Therefore, it becomes necessary for Colorado to devise a strategy and implement against the plan in order to control and handle this huge influx of enrollments. Fortunately, Colorado does have a plan.

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As the deadline for health insurance marketplace implementation edges closer, states are planning contingency measures to tackle last minute hassles and challenges. Although each state’s plan of action differs, there is common theme– states want to know the primary concerns of residents, and how to address them in a cohesive and comprehensive way. In fact, the state of Massachusetts has conducted a statewide poll capturing popular concerns of residents.

The poll, conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society, randomly chose 417 adults from different areas of Massachusetts and conducted a telephone-based survey. The more prominent themes from the survey are listed below.

•    Most residents are worried about rising healthcare costs. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents felt that the expected rise in healthcare costs is the single most important issue facing healthcare in Massachusetts. In western and central Massachusetts, this number was a little lower at 67 percent. These regions saw the focus move a little toward access and quality of healthcare.

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