Washington Healthcare Exchange Enrollment Far Short of Goals
If enrollments don't skyrocket, the Washington Healthcare Exchange will fall short of goals needed to pay for itself.
According to officials with the Washington Healthplanfinder website, the site is only at 60% of it's goal of enrolling 213,000 people during the most current enrollment period which ended February 15th.
170,000 people enrolled during the last period, 30,000 more than the first year of Obamacare in Washington state, but still far short of the necessary numbers to enable the exchange to "pay for itself."
Obamacare, as run through the state exchanges, requires a certain number of people who actually pay for their healthcare plan to offset the 'free' Medicaid given to low-income or other citizens who qualify for no-cost plans. If the two don't balance, then the exchange runs a deficit.
Healthcare exchange officials are asking the legislature for a budget of $147 million, which is far above original projected figures. One of the reasons for the issue is officials far underestimated the number of people enrolling who would qualify for Medicaid - the lowest level of care.
The Exchange has also been plagued with poor customer service and confusing information to consumers. According to Seattle Times blogger Lisa Stiffler in February, numerous clients have received confusing and misleading information.
One man in Orcas Island, who bought a plan through Group Health. He was assured the plan would be renewed automatically, but when he went to use it in January 2014, he found it had been cancelled. Buried deep in the fine print of his policy was a notice that he had to renew it himself each year.
Exchange officials said healthcare isn't like an automatic magazine subscription that renews itself unless you stop it, it has to be confirmed annually. This, despite numerous plans OUTSIDE of Obamacare that DO automatically renew unless the client makes changes or cancels.
Everyone knows what Open Enrollement is at their job. If you have healthcare, and don't modify or change it, it stays the same. The Orcas Island man, James Bach, says Healthcare Exchange officials are "trying to cover their butt" over the mistake. He took his business elsewhere due to the issues with the Exchange.
Washington is not the only state with numerous Healthcare Exchange issues.