As a whole, the state-run Obamacare exchanges have been more efficient, and functional, than the troubled federal exchange. But, even three weeks in to 2014, there are a few underperformers bringing the average down. Covered California is on track to meet its enrollment goal, according to MarketWatch, and its hiccups have been minor. Meanwhile several states are competing for worst exchange, with Maryland taking the lead after, most recently, listing a help-line number that redirected to a Seattle pottery business. With a little over two months until the March 31 deadline for enrollment, these are the states that are doing the best and the worst.
The Best of the Best
Only 10 states reached or exceeded their three-month enrollment goals, including Connecticut and Rhode Island, who saw numbers at 232 and 174 percent, respectively, of the target set by the federal government in September, according to The New York Times. Both will hopefully raise their percentage of young enrollees about 21 to 22 percent, but that's a problem across all the exchanges.
California has been one of the shining examples of going all in on the health care law. The state expanded Medicaid, and heavily promoted their insurance exchange, Covered California. As the most populous state it's not surprising that is has the most private insurance enrollments (498,794 through December, and 625,000 through Tuesday according to the Associated Press), though MarketWatch reported today that California has reached the minimum estimate for subsidy-eligible enrollees. Downside: The state hasn't enrolled nearly as many Latino residents as it should have, due to a lack of Spanish language resources and counselors.
The Worst of the Worst
Maryland, Maryland, Maryland. On Saturday, an incorrect help-line number on the site sent people to a Seattle based pottery business, according to The Baltimore Sun. "You can't make this stuff up, and I guess if it wasn't so serious it could be funny," said Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a Republican. The worst part is, no one at the exchange knew until The Sun contacted them. Last month The Sun's editorial board recommended that the state strongly consider scrapping the exchange and joining the federal exchange, if the site was beyond fixing. Earlier this month The Washington Post reported that Maryland was warned over a year ago that it didn't have a proper plan for launching its exchange. A new bill that would enroll those locked out of the exchange into Maryland's high risk pool insurance plan is moving on the state's House. The one bit of good news about the exchange is that 27 percent of its enrollees are in the 18 to 34 age range. That's not as high as the White House wants, but it's better than most states. But that, that's 27 percent of 18,000, about 74 percent less than the target.
Covered Oregon hasn't seen one bit of good news since it failed to launch in October. It still doesn't work. Two of its top directors have resigned, one for health reasons. In November residents had to mail or fax in their applications, and some said the fax lines were usually too busy. And even some individuals who met the early mail-in deadline didn't receive their enrollment packets on time, as the Statesmen Journal found. Basically, it's a hot mess, and lawmakers are considering scrapping the site and starting over, according to Portland's KGW.
On December 2 the conservative National Review named Hawaii's Health Connector the worst exchange in the nation. Since then it has risen from less than 300 enrollees to 2,192 through December. Still, software problems and an inability to link the main exchange to the Medicaid portal have crippled the site, according to CBS News in December. It's also a little embarrassing for the president that his home state is slacking.