Officials: Fed Tech Issues Hurting State-Run Exchanges

Officials: Fed Tech Issues Hurting State-Run Exchanges

by: Brian M. Kalish, Benefit News

November 18, 2013

The technology issues plaguing the federal exchanges have hampered enrollment in state-run exchanges — which are largely free of glitches – causing some states to modify their marketing techniques.

On a Monday call organized by FamiliesUSA, four state exchange leaders said they have experienced decreased enrollment numbers and are frequently asked whether their sites are working. However, the full carryover from the federal problems is yet to be known.

“We need to remind everyone that … Americans are enroll[ing] through state-based marketplaces,” said Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee. “For those Americans, they are having an experience [very] different then federally.”

Lee said that almost daily at his speaking engagements across the Golden State he is asked if the site is functioning. Across the country, on the Eastern seaboard, AccessHealthCT’s CEO Kevin Counihan said his office receives similar questions.

“It has impacted enrollment, there is clearly confusion,” Counihan said.

To overcome these problems, California has shifted its exchange advertising away from an accent on affordability, to the message “We are not having technical issues,” Lee said. Further, Ron Pollack, executive director of FamiliesUSA, also serves on the board of Enroll America and said that organization has a “significant set of ads” ready to move online in states with their own exchanges.

Lee hinted that the numbers speak for themselves: in California 69% of those who enrolled said it was an “easy process,”’ and Counihan explained that in his state, 96.5% of enrolled residents said they were satisfied with the enrollment process. Further, 82% say they are likely to recommend AccessHealthCT to a friend or colleague.

Lee said the Federal Hub, which complies information from the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Homeland Security, and through which state-run exchanges verify their data, has largely functioned properly. However, Danielle Holahan of the New York State Health Benefit exchange noted there have been some instances where it has gone down, prohibiting the Empire State from completing enrollments. In late October, the data hub went down for a few days.


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