Colorado Exchange struggles with both Consumers and Insurers

Health insurers owed $20 million, worker warns of ‘very low’ 2015 exchange sign-ups | Health News Colorado.

On the consumer front…

“Our enrollments are very, very low because of system issues,” said Jackie Sievers, a director of enrollment for four assistance sites in western Colorado.

She called in to an exchange board meeting and said she only has been able to complete about one in five applications.

“Other sites in my region are reporting 1 percent (completion rates) or even lower. My concern is that our open enrollment period is much shorter this year and we have some pretty significant issues and are having trouble getting people signed up,” Sievers said.

She said the system incorrectly calculates federal tax credits, known as APTC — which stands for advanced premium tax credits. The credits come from the federal government and are designed to make health insurance more affordable. On top of problems with the tax credits, Sievers said anyone seeking coverage through the small business portal, known as SHOP, can’t complete applications. (SHOP is for small group coverage – Ed)

On the insurance company front…

While workers are struggling to help people sign up for 2015, board member Steve ErkenBrack called attention Monday to the fact that exchange system problems have left insurance companies waiting for millions in payments for customers who qualified for federal tax credits this year.

ErkenBrack is president of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, a large insurance carrier. He asked Connect for Health’s interim CEO Gary Drews to do a better job of updating board members on problems the exchange is facing, rather than focusing primarily on rosy updates.

ErkenBrack cited problems with the APTC reimbursements that could cost carriers millions and drive them away from Colorado’s exchange. And he said that Colorado’s systems continue to enroll some customers simultaneously in private plans and Medicaid. So far, about 3,300 people have been caught in the “simultaneous enrollment” snafu. While the customers have double coverage, it’s unclear who will pay their claims: taxpayers or private insurance companies. Furthermore, they are not allowed to receive both Medicaid and federal tax credits. Earlier this year, insurance industry representatives warned that some of the individual claims could reach $1 million each.

“Both of these are critical issues,” ErkenBrack said on Monday.

And let’s pile on while were at it…

Dr. Mike Fallon, another board member, said insurance carriers are “our customers also and if they are not being paid tens of millions,” that’s a significant problem.

“We take this incredibly seriously. This is a big risk for us,” Work said.

Sue Birch, director of Colorado’s Medicaid programs and a non-voting board member, questioned whether the exchange should consider insuring itself in case carriers suffer losses as a result of problems accounting for tax credits.

“There’s enormous potential for liability,” Birch said.

You really can’t make this stuff up. I believe that Connect for Health Colorado has the best of intentions and works very hard. I personally like all the people I’ve met from that organization. All that said, color me “doubtful” they are on the road to success.

 

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