Exchange enrollment process could see delays in California

Insurers operating in California may not see as large an enrollment in the state's health insurance exchange as expected, at least initially. Covered California, the agency running the online marketplace, might not have its website completely operational by the time open enrollment begins on Oct. 1.

The largest state exchange has begun informing insurers of the possible delay. A Covered California spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal it's still testing the technology needed to enroll consumers online. Although the exchange is "fully planning on being fully functional on Oct. 1," the spokesperson said "we've communicated to the health plans that there's a possibility, depending on the success of the tests, that we would have an aided enrollment and work toward a self-enrollment shortly thereafter."

Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said other enrollment options still exist, including call centers as well as enrollment counselors and agents, if the online self-enrollment process isn't ready, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"There is work that remains to validate that the enrollment process is ready to go in October," Keith Ketcher, an outside project manager working on the exchange's computer system, told the Covered California board at a meeting Thursday. "We will know in the coming weeks what our progress is."

Meanwhile, Covered California decided it wouldn't include a planned quality rating system for initial enrollment. That should be welcome news to some insurers that were concerned they lacked adequate time to prepare reporting systems, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.

"Quality scores for health plans with substantially similar networks will be posted as soon as possible in 2013," Lee said during the board meeting. "Whether it will be January or April, I don't know."

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the Los Angeles Times article
- see the Sacramento Business Journal article

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