Five state exchanges are making major website changes for 2015

September 29, 2014

At least five state health insurance exchanges are making major changes in their websites for the 2015 open enrollment period

At least five state health insurance exchanges are making major changes in their websites for the 2015 open enrollment period.

Read about the changes below: 

Idaho – After using HEALTHCARE.GOV for the first open enrollment, YOUR IDADO HEALTH will have its own state-run technology platform for 2015. The Your Health Idaho board of directors is preparing to re-enroll the 76,000 Idaho residents who purchased exchange plans last year, despite a late start on the process. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 29 finally provided Idaho detailed information on all current enrollees in the state. State officials had hoped to have that information over the summer so they could start setting up accounts in the new system and process 2015 advanced payment of premium tax credits. Lacking complete enrollment information from CMS, Your Health Idaho staff had begun reconstructing their enrollment roster using information from insurance plans.

“Right now, Your Health Idaho is on track to be ready to reenroll our existing customers,” Jody Olson, the agency's director of communications told Managed Healthcare Executive. Your Health Idaho had originally hoped to use its own website for the first enrollment period, but opted for healthcare.gov after determining they would not be able to launch its own site in time.

Maryland – The MARYLAND HEALTH CONNECTION staff has announced that they will be adopting Connecticut's health insurance exchange software for the 2015 enrollment period. Connecticut, which reputed has one of the most successful state-based health insurance exchange programs in the nation, has announced it will offer a “Health Exchange in Box” package for use in other states.  Federal officials have reportedly expressed some concern that the Connecticut system can be adapted for use by Maryland in time for the start of this year's enrollment period. Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon also looked at the Connecticut Exchange in Box package but selected other options.  Connecticut recently acknowledged about 5,000 previously undisclosed errors that occurred during the 2014 enrollment cycle. The software glitches responsible for those errors must be fixed before the opening of the 2015 enrollment cycle on November 15, administrators in both Connecticut and Maryland acknowledge. Administrators were still attempting to determine if those who enrolled in insurance programs during the last enrollment period will have to re-enroll.

 

Massachusetts – Officials announced Aug. 8 that they will revamp MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH CONNECTOR online health-insurance exchange with new software from hCentive Inc. People who enrolled in insurance programs during the last enrollment period will have to re-enroll. The Connector site has experienced numerous problems, notably trouble in determining the proper subsidized coverage levels for enrollees or whether people qualify for Medicaid. Massachusetts considered utilizing the federally run healthcare.gov site for 2015 but ultimately opted for the hCentive system, which has been used successfully in Colorado and Kentucky. Massachusetts actually had a functioning health insurance exchange in place prior to the opening of the Obamacare enrollment period, as a result of the state's landmark 2006 healthcare reform law. However, the state had to develop a new system to meet technical requirements set down in the Affordable Care Act. CGI Group was therefore issued a contract to develop a new health insurance website for the state.  However, as a result of the technical problems on the new sites, Massachusetts officially ended it relationship with CGI Group in June.

Nevada – Silver State residents will use healthcare.gov to enroll in 2015. Those who have already enrolled in insurance plans using the state's NEVADA HEALTH LINK online insurance portal will now have to re-enroll. During last year's enrollment period, the website reportedly accepted applications but failed to issue insurance polices for some 5,000 state residents. The state now faces a class action lawsuit from consumers who incurred medical expenses as a result. The state in May cut ties with Xerox, which developed the Nevada Health Links site. The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board will still review insurance rates, decide what health plans can participate, oversee Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, and run the navigator program handling consumer outreach. Nevadans will still reach healthcare.gov through the Nevada Health Link site.

Oregon – The Beaver State will also utilize healthcare.gov for the 2015 enrollment period. Existing Obamacare enrollees in the state will have to re-enroll with the federal exchange. The Oregon Health Authority will still oversee participating health insurers and handle consumer outreach and relations. The state's COVER OREGON website, developed by Oracle Corporation and managed by the state rather than an independent systems integrator, has been plagued by numerous administrative and technical issues. A Congressional Research Services report found that although some 81,000 Oregon residents signed up for insurance during the first Obamacare enrollment period, virtually none were able to navigate the site without human assistance. As of April, the site had been unable to process any applications online, forcing the state to accept virtually all applications on paper. The Oregon Health Authority that month voted to end its relationship with Oracle, making Oregon the first state to abandon in own exchange program. Oracle and Oregon are now suing each other for breech of contract.