Maryland’s Health Insurance Web Site Stumbles Badly In First Days

Glitches persist on Maryland health insurance exchange

State health exchange slowly improving

As recently as last month, OMalley, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, was touting his states performance in a joint appearance with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on CNNs Crossfire. Attacking Perry for refusing to implement parts of the health-care law, OMalley said, I know Texas seceded from the National Governors Association, but if you came, you might be able to learn from the other governors that are actually implementing [the health law], doing it well, and actually doing a better job of supporting an innovation economy and their workers well-being. OMalley and his wife have been on a long-planned vacation out of state this week. But the governor has been checking in regularly. One aide said that OMalley was very emphatic in conversations Thursday that he wants the glitches fixed, regardless of what it takes. If states like Kentucky are operating well, one would hope that Maryland would join the ranks in the future, said one industry executive who did not want to be identified for fear of jeopardizing business with the state. Considering how much effort has been made and resources poured into ensuring a smooth enrollment on the exchange, the first week has been a significant disappointment. Kentucky announced Friday that 4,739 individuals or families had enrolled in new health-care coverage. Connecticut has enrolled 1,000 individuals or families.
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U.S. News, which ceased its print edition in December 2010, began its lists in 1983 with its ranking of the nations best colleges. The magazine followed it up with lists of the best law schools, business schools and hospitals. The company has been able to stay alive while other print publications have fallen by the wayside. Newsweek, for example, once owned by The Washington Post Co., has been sold twice since 2010 and is now owned by IBT Media. This week, The Washington Post flagship completed the sale of its newspaper to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. And earlier this year, locally owned media empire Allbritton Communications sold its eight broadcasting properties for nearly $1 billion.
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California Health Care Exchange Site Overwhelmed On First Day

1. Enrollment in the exchange runs through March 31. “Just as consumers don’t purchase a car on the first visit to the lot, we expect that people may shop and think about their options for a bit before buying,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a consumer advocacy group. “The ability to quickly search for what health plans include your doctor or local hospital is a powerful new tool for consumers.” Wright said the narrow networks in the exchange shouldn’t keep people from getting needed care if state regulators enforce rules on “timely access” to care. The California Medical Assn. and other physician groups have been asking the exchange for details about the health plan networks for months. They say they wanted more time to review the provider lists for any errors and to gauge whether the insurance networks were adequate before the information was handed over to consumers.
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Howard County health digest

The system, they said, became overwhelmed when so many people tried to access it. But even after logging onto the site, many people complained about encountering error messages, frozen screens and other problems. It is unclear how many people have been able to enroll in plans. Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the quasi-state agency that oversees the exchange, said it will not have a count until next week. Other states, including those with sites run by the federal government, have had similar problems that stem from servers and software that couldn’t handle a large number of users. Maryland officials warned that there might be problems with the site before it launched and have been working to address issues. Critics, including Laszewski, said the system should have been built to handle a high volume of users.
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U.S. News chases health-care dollars

When Republican Sen. John McCain, then a presidential candidate, proposed similar reductions to pay for his health care plan, it was the Obama camp that attacked the Republican for cutting benefits.


Whatever you want to call them, it’s a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefits. It’s true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage’s private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare.

The New England Journal of Medicine concurred:

A phased elimination of the substantial overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans, which now enroll nearly 25% of Medicare beneficiaries, will produce an estimated $132 billion in savings over 10 years. […] The ACA also produces nearly $200 billion in savings by assuming that providers can improve their productivity as firms in other industries have done. On the basis of this presumed improvement, the law reduces Medicare’s annual “market basket” updates for most types of providers – a provision that has generated controversy.

The law doesn’t cut any customer benefits, just the amount that providers get paid. Hospitals and drug companies agreed to these cuts based on the calculation that more people with insurance meant more people consuming what they sell and, more importantly for the hospitals, fewer people getting treated and simply not paying for it.
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Health care exchange in Wash. has more problems

This program provides support and education for those who want to quit as well as for those who have already quit from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 and Nov. 14. Attend one session or all sessions. Tired of being tired?
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California health insurance exchange still lacks doctor search tool

“We totally understand the frustration,” Marchand said. “We’re going to continue to make the site better.” They welcome feedback from the public on the phone and via email at In addition to the online marketplace, Washington residents can sign up by telephone or in person. Officials say it takes about an hour to go through the process for an individual and a little longer for a family. Washington residents have six months to buy health insurance through the new exchange during the first enrollment period ending in March. The state estimates about 1 million Washington state residents do not have health insurance, or about one in seven people. The state hopes to enroll 130,000 people for health insurance in 2014 and another 280,000 in 2015.
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