My View: Colorado ObamaCare is not what the naysayers say
November 1, 2013
Even with the disastrous web sign-up rollout, there are those who are beginning to realize that some of the conservative cable talk shows did not have it quite right about ObamaCare. What must be puzzling to the dedicated ObamaCare and Obama haters is why public approval of ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) actually rose eight points even as media focused on the web system screw-ups. In fact, a CNN poll released Oct. 21 three weeks into the web rollout found "that 53 percent either support ObamaCare or say it's not liberal enough." Consumers are beginning to sort out for themselves what is fact versus fiction.
What we hear in Colorado differs from feedback on the federal web sign-up. Colorado is one of the 15 states that opted to develop and manage their own marketplace exchanges and website. The rest of the states decided to let Uncle Sam do it, and they did a disservice to their own citizens. Even in the first month of the sign-ups, state run ObamaCare systems have worked much better than the federal one.
In Colorado, Connect for Health Colorado is managing the marketplace exchanges where consumers can shop, choose, and enroll . Their website is http://www.connectforhealthco.com. Colorado has also flooded the state with "navigators," allowing for in-person applications, certifying insurance agents to sign their customers up. Colorado staffed call centers for telephone sign-ups and for answering questions.(1- 855-752-6749.)
The figures provided by the Colorado system for the first week reveal a successful operation: Unique website visitors: 162,941; calls and chats with customer service center representatives: 9,658; accounts created:18,174; Average call and chat wait time: 5 minutes 44 seconds; enrollments: 226; covered lives: 305.
That enrollments were low this first week is not surprising. Experience with the Massachusetts system after which ObamaCare was patterned was that most enrollments did not occur until the last moment. Open enrollment lasts for another five months, while coverage does not begin until January 1 for early birds who enroll by Dec. 15. During the first week, the most popular pages visited on the Colorado website and questions asked indicate visitors were mostly kicking the tires, being curious about whether they qualified for lowered premiums, how to sign up, and what the sticker price for them would be. Also, there are a wide range of plans from which to choose that require some thought and kitchen table discussion. Making sign-up for ObamaCare easier, applicants will not have to fill out pages of health history because all pre-existing conditions will be covered anyway. Questions about income will be asked and answers verified to determine if customers are eligible for reduced premiums.
There are those wringing their hands that young people will not sign up because they will be unable to deal with a faulty computer program. Colorado systems are not faulty. Having raised three teenagers and observed three teenage grandchildren close at hand, my experience is that if anyone has the ability and patience to apply online, this computer savvy generation does. However, " last minute" is their middle name even into young adulthood.
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