Covered California leads the nation in exchange enrollment

November 13, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy 

More than 106,000 people have selected an insurance plan through either a state-run or federal health benefit exchange, with one-third of those coming from California.

According to these figures, which were released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, California's health benefit exchange had more than 35,300 people select a plan through its online marketplace, Covered California. Additionally, another 19,000 applications for coverage were pending at the time of release.

The federal government’s figures were tallied from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2, but later in the day, Peter Lee, executive director for Covered California, noted that 30,830 people in California had enrolled in plans in October and 29,000 more enrolled through Nov. 9. Lee also noted that more than 72,000 residents had been deemed eligible for Medi-Cal under the expansion called for in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

While these figures may be shy of the estimates many exchange officials were hoping for during the pre-enrollment period, they were enough to set California well ahead of other states operating their own marketplaces. Of the 13 other states (and Washington, D.C.,) operating exchanges, only New York was able to crack into the tens-of-thousands, netting roughly 16,400 enrollees, according to federal figures. Other states cited as leaders in exchange enrollment, including Washington and Kentucky, saw 7,091 and 5,586 enrollees, respectively.

Despite lower than expected enrollment across the board, state-operated exchanges are far outpacing the federal exchange, which made headlines in recent weeks due to its technologically-hampered website, www.healthcare.gov. Together, the 36 states relying on this site for enrollment have netted 26,794 enrollees, fewer than California alone. Many observers expect that enrollment figures will pick up once the technical glitches with exchange websites, both state- and federal-run, have been ironed out.

While Covered California is leading the nation in enrollment, it is still working to resolve a number of issues with its online marketplace. Since its launch, Covered California’s website has featured a provider directory with a host of inaccuracies. While Covered California has been able to address a significant portion of these problems, the site continues to display inaccurate information, such as their languages spoken and participation status in certain plans, for a number of physicians. The physicians' specialties are also not currently provided after Covered California removed the information due to inaccuracies three weeks ago.

The California Medical Association continues to work with Covered California to improve the accuracy of the provider directory, without which patients will be unable to make an educated selection of insurance plan based on their existing providers. At Covered California’s last board meeting, it suggested a “complete reboot” of the provider directory was likely within the next several months.


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