How some states are pulling off stealth Obamacare sign-ups

Despite the failings of the buggy federal HealthCare.gov site, there’s a stealth march on enrolling people in Obamacare

That’s coming from the 14 states and the District of Columbia that have created their own websites to sign people up for private health insurance. In October, these sites signed up almost 80,000 people for health-care plans, compared with fewer than 27,000 enrollees for the federal site that serves 36 states, Bloomberg notes.

In fact, even as President Obama sought today to rally support for the bug-plagued federal website, some states are on track to meet or exceed their goals for new sign-ups. Connecticut, Kentucky and Washington state, which all built their own Obamacare sites, are tracking ahead of their enrollment estimates, signaling that the new health insurance program is performing in some areas of the country. 

It’s not surprising these states are flying under the radar. After all, the failings of HealthCare.gov were so monumental that they seemed ready to undermine President Obama’s efforts to overhaul the country’s health-care system. 

The administration’s efforts to fix the widely derided HealthCare.gov, which underwent an extensive fix last week to fix more than 400 bugs and make software improvements, have overshadowed the success of the state-run exchanges. The saga of HealthCare.gov isn't over yet: As CBS MoneyWatch reported on Monday, there’s still evidence of continued glitches, with consumers still posting photos of error messages they trying to use the site.

At the same time, many of the states that have created their own enrollment sites are continuing to plug along. Some are even distancing themselves from the federal site in an effort to keep residents from getting scared away. 

California, for instance, started a cam paign to raise awareness that its site, Covered California, is separate from the buggy HealthCare.gov, the New Yorker notes. 

“I feel very good about where we are,” Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, told Pacific Standard last month. He added that the site expects to triple or even quadruple its daily enrollment numbers as the Dec. 15th deadline approaches to receive coverage at the start of 2014. 

Connecticut has proved to be another stealth success story, given that its site has performed consistently, the Daily Beast notes. The state, which is aiming to sign up 70,000 out of its 344,000 uninsured residents, spent $44.1 million on a contract with Deloitte to build the system. 

Kevin Counihan, the chief executive of the health exchange, said he expects to sign up 100,000 by the end of March. 

To be sure, there have also been problems at state-run exchanges. Take Vermont, where its state-run exchange has encountered a series of technical problems, including a failed online payment system

Nevertheless, the success of these state-run sites suggests that consumers will sign up for Obamacare -- provided they're given access to a functioning site.

  • Aimee Picchi

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