State exchanges: Process smoother second time around, but problems persist

Good news for state exchanges: Roughly 965,000 enrollees have signed up for health insurance coverage that began Jan. 1. That number will go up when California determines how many of last year's 1.1 million enrollees renewed their plans.

Indeed, officials report that most state insurance exchanges work better the second time around, too, though technical problems persist on several sites. 

With that, FierceHealthPayer offers an enrollment update for the 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, which operate their own health insurance exchanges. These totals include only qualified health plan (QHP) figures and do not include new Medicaid enrollments. (All figures come from the state exchange entities themselves unless otherwise noted.)

California reported 144,178 new enrollees. This pace exceeds last year's pace by a considerable margin, according to CBS Los Angeles, which noted that Covered California enrolled about 109,000 residents in October and November 2013. Information about renewals, as well as a demographic breakdown of who signed up for coverage, will be available later this month, the article said.

Colorado reported 108,077 enrollees, with 17 percent new to the site and 83 percent renewing their coverage. However, it's estimated that as many as one in five Connect for Health Colorado visitors are "getting stuck" in the enrollment and renewal process, Health News Colorado said, and the site plans to ask its board of directors for an emergency infusion of $322,000 to fix the problem.

Connecticut had about 86,000 enrollees, with 23 percent new to the site and 77 percent renewing their coverage, according to the Hartford Courant. Access Health CT has a way to go to reach its goal of 70,000 new enrollees by Feb. 15, however.

The District of Columbia saw 14,986 enrollees, with 13 percent new to the site and 87 percent renewing their coverage, the Washington Business Journal reported. D.C. Health also fixed a glitch so that applications that weren't completed by the initial enrollment deadline were updated in time for Jan. 1 coverage.

Hawaii saw about 15,500 enrollees, KITV reported. A further breakdown wasn't available. The good news is that that number already exceeds last year's total. The bad news, according to the article, is that it will take Hawaii Health Connector another seven years to turn a profit.

Idaho reported 74,689 enrollees. An exact breakdown wasn't available. This year's Your Health Idaho enrollment has nearly equaled last year's total of nearly 76,000, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Kentucky had 101,114 enrollees, the Cincinnati Courier-Journal reported. An exact breakdown wasn't available, but Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data noted that about 90 percent of enrollees were returning customers.

Maryland saw more than 87,000 enrollees, according to the Baltimore Sun. A further breakdown wasn't available. Middle-tier silver plans are most popular.

Massachusetts had 55,260 enrollees, according to the Boston Globe. Anyone who signed up and paid for coverage using Massachusetts Health Connector by Dec. 28 received coverage as of Jan. 1, the article said, though the tight timeframe means that insurers weren't getting enrollment information for last-minute enrollees.

Minnesota reported 31,159 enrollees, with 66 percent new to the site and 34 percent renewing their coverage. MNsure remains on track to hit its 67,000 enrollment goal, MPRnews said.

New York saw 83,057 enrollees, noted. The NY State of Health marketplace did not distinguish between new and returning customers.

Rhode Island reported 26,380 enrollees, with 23 percent new to the site and 77 percent renewing their coverage. HealthSource RI officials are encouraged, according to WPRI, as the overall total is more than double the sign-ups by this time last year.

Vermont reported 30,237 enrollees, with 23 percent new to the site and 77 percent renewing their coverage. The 6,881 new enrollees falls within Vermont Health Connect's goal, according to the Burlington Free Press. However, the sign-up process still requires some manual back-end fixes when customers update their information, the article said, and that has caused some problems to "snowball."

Washington reported 107,071 enrollees, with 26 percent new to the site and 74 percent renewing their coverage. That puts the Washington Health Benefit Exchange halfway toward its goal for this enrollment period, the Seattle Times said. To get there, the exchange must get at least 50,000 more customers to renew.

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