State exchanges face enrollment roadblocks

It's not only the federal health insurance exchange that's run into multiple problems, some state marketplaces like those in California and New York also are experiencing roadblocks to getting consumers enrolled.

In California, some healthcare workers, insurance agents and navigators are complaining they can't sign up consumers through the state's exchange, Covered California. Problems include training sessions that started late and background checks that took too long, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Covered California officials estimated about 80 percent of consumers in the state will want in-person help when signing up for a health plan sold on the exchange, so it aimed to have 16,000 enrollment counselors and even more insurance agents working to enroll consumers. However, less than 20 percent of all counselors and agents who have started the training process have been approved to actually help consumers apply for coverage.

The state's exchange concedes there are problems with the navigator program, but says it's taking steps to remedy them. "We know there have been issues in enrolling people and we are moving as quickly as we can to address them," Covered California spokeswoman Anne Gonzales told the LA Times. "We are asking counselors to make future appointments and to use paper applications when they can't access the website."

Meanwhile, in New York, businesses and organizations like pharmacies, hair salons and taxi garages are mistakenly listed as navigators that help consumers sign up for coverage, the New York Times reported.

A bakery called Brooklyn Cupcake, which also is listed as an enrollment site, has been receiving 20 to 25 phone calls a day from consumers seeking assistance on the exchange, CNN reported.

The New York Health Department, which is running the state exchange, admitted to errors and said it's updating the list of navigators "to ensure accuracy and correct any misidentified location information," spokesman Bill Schwarz told the NY Times.

To learn more:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- see the New York Times article
- check out the CNN article

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