States' exchange outreach, education budgets differ greatly

Insurers should keep a watchful eye on their states' financial expenditures, as this may be the best indicator of whether they will enroll large amounts of new consumers shopping on the health insurance exchanges.

States are spending vastly different amounts of money to educate and promote the exchanges to their uninsured residents, many of whom are eligible to shop and sign up for health plans through the online marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Health News/Washington Post article.

Florida, for example, could spend $6 million to help almost 4 million uninsured consumers sign up for coverage. But Maryland is allocating almost $25 million to help only 730,000 uninsured people. Funds in most states also will go toward hiring and training employees who provide consumer assistance during the first year of exchange operations.

Part of the problem is that states running their own exchanges, like Maryland, receive more money to educate and promote the marketplaces than states deferring to the federally-run versions, like Florida. And since most states aren't operating their own exchanges, the majority of them aren't receiving much financial outreach assistance from the feds.

"It's a shame that we see states with lower rates of uninsured putting more money into education and outreach than states with higher rates of uninsured," Deborah Bachrach, special counsel at Manatt Phelps & Phillips and former New York State Medicaid director, told the newspapers.

Despite having the highest uninsured rate in the country (24 percent), Texas will only receive about $8 million to help enroll about 5 million people. That amounts to less than $2 per uninsured consumer, compared to the $31 per consumer that Maryland receives.

Colorado is currently the only state to have launched an ad campaign focused on increasing consumers' awareness of and helping them sign up for exchanges, spending almost $13 million total, FieceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News/Washington Post article