Three things we learned from today’s Obamacare update

December 16, 2013

Some days, usually about 2 p.m. or so, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hosts a half-hour-long call on the status of the insurance marketplace. This used to be a daily call; now it occurs a few times a week. But, whenever it happens, we here at Wonkblog will update you on what the federal government told us about how Obamacare is going. Without further ado, here is what we learned Monday.

(Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
(Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
subisdy

Window shopping has improved to include subsidies. Potential HealthCare.gov shoppers can now enter their income to get an estimate of whether they'll qualify for federal health purchasing coverage.

That can give consumers a better sense of whether the sticker price of an insurance plan is what they would actually pay, or whether the government would kick in part of the price. They can now see these prices without creating a HealthCare.Gov account.

"This is designed to help individuals best figure out what meets their needs and budgets," Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille says. "With today's update, consumers can now supply their household size and income to get a sense of how much they will pay."

The federal exchange has started transferring Medicaid accounts to states. This is a part of the back-end system that sends those who are likely eligible for Medicaid over to the state programs from the federal exchange. While this account transfer technology was supposed to be up and running in October, the state and federal systems weren't quite ready by then, and Health and Human Services was exploring work-arounds as recently as last week.

But, there may be hope for account transfer yet: Bataille says that about 10 states are now trying out the account transfer functionality. "Those are states that have the ability to handle that transfer appropriately," she says. "We’re working closely with those states, as well as others, in order to successfully continue the determination process and enrollment in coverage."

No demographic information is available on Healthcare.gov enrollees yet. Reporters have been asking for this information, but  there is no specific date for when it will be released.

"We are actively working to get more detailed, comprehensive information that would include information related to demographics," Bataille says. "As soon as we have that, it is something we would like to release at a later point with additional enrollment data."

 

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Lydia DePillis | December 16, 2013