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Colorado’s Obamacare rollout continues to underwhelm

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Colorado’s pace of enrollment in the state-run Obamacare exchange has picked up significantly in recent weeks, but the Centennial State continues to lag behind others operating their own enrollment portals for the Affordable Care Act.

At a meeting of officials for Connect For Health Colorado Monday, it was announced that 3,164 people had enrolled in a new health insurance plan since the Oct. 1 rollout. That’s a marked improvement over the mere 226 who had signed up in the first week.

But still, the number is just a fraction of the more than 44,000 residents who had made online profiles but who have yet to pull the trigger and buy insurance.

Board member Arnold Salazar is quoted in the Denver Post wondering aloud how many might have enrolled in recent weeks if it weren’t for a series of well-publicized computer glitches that drew unwelcome comparisons with the troubles experienced at the federal HealthCare.gov website.

“If we didn’t have these glitches, what would that number be?” Arnold Salazar said, wondering if it would be in the range of “6,000, or 18,000 or 30,000.”

Connect For Health Colorado has been working through numerous bugs, including locking potential customers out of the site for days at a time and taking weeks to issue “immediate denials” for those overqualified for Medicaid. The latter is a formality required for lower-income people who don’t qualify for expanded Medicaid to shop for subsidized private insurance through the exchange, but at Monday’s meeting officials admitted that the denials are instantly processed only half the time.

About 25,000 people have signed up for expanded Medicaid, which will take effect on Jan. 1.

Another reason for the underwhelming number of new enrollments is that applicants must pick up the phone to complete the application, according to the Denver Post. Prospective customers won’t be able to complete the process online until Nov. 4, but the paper reports that more glitches could be in store once Colorado’s website connects with federal data hubs to complete the application.

Colorado is one of 15 states running their own health care exchanges. States that run their own exchanges account for about one-third of the U.S. populations.

Some other states seem to be having a better go of it. Last week, New York announced that it had enrolled 40,000 people through its exchange and Kentucky had enrolled almost as many people in its first day as Colorado has in three weeks.

Colorado’s goal is to sign up 136,000 people in the first year.

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Tags : obamacare
Greg Campbell