Are the Obamacare Health Insurance Exchanges Ready to Roll?

Photo (cc) by jurno

Americans who don’t get insurance through work and buy it themselves can begin shopping for their 2015 coverage on a state or federal online marketplace on Saturday, Nov. 15.

After a disastrous rollout in 2013, it’s no surprise that some Americans are wondering what to expect with HealthCare.gov this time around. But those in charge say the technological glitches have been eliminated.

“We’re very confident we’re going to be in good shape beginning Saturday,” Kevin Counihan, who was appointed to head HealthCare.gov in August, told CBS News.

Counihan also said the application process is a lot more streamlined than it was a year ago, which will make it easier for people to navigate and complete. CBS reported:

Customers will also be able to choose from more insurance companies — 25 percent more. This, [Counihan] says, will create more competition and better pricing.

State health care exchanges in Oregon and Nevada flopped last year, leading both states to make some big changes this go-round.

“Cover Oregon was the only exchange in the nation that never fully launched and didn’t let the public enroll in coverage in one sitting,” The Associated Press said.

After ditching its troubled exchange in April, Cover Oregon transitioned to using the federal portal. Because of that, the estimated 105,000 Oregonians who previously enrolled in a private plan through Cover Oregon will be required to re-enroll on HealthCare.gov, AP said.

According to AP, Nevada’s health insurance exchange rollout in 2013 was an epic fail.

“Website glitches left people without coverage they paid for, enrollments were less than one-third of what state officials predicted, and complications led to a lawsuit against the state and its contractor, Xerox,” AP said.

Like Oregon, Nevada will be using the federal HealthCare.gov site to enroll Nevadans in insurance plans. People who enrolled through Nevada Health Link last year need to re-enroll by Dec. 15 or “they will lose any subsidies they have received when the new year starts,” AP reported.

Those who enrolled through Maryland’s marketplace last year will need to re-enroll at Maryland’s new website by Dec. 18 or lose subsidies, The New York Times said. In all, 13 states and Washington, D.C., have their own marketplaces this year, and the rest are using HealthCare.gov.

The Obama administration is hoping that about 9.1 million people sign up for insurance during open enrollment, which ends Feb. 15.

So far, Obamacare is doing a better job at controlling health care costs than expected, wrote Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief at Vox. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently analyzed data for 48 cities and found that insurance premiums are actually decreasing by an average of 0.2 percent.

Unfortunately, the decreases aren’t universal.

“There are places where prices are skyrocketing (like Anchorage, Alaska, where they’re rising by 28 percent; or Minneapolis, Minn., where they’re rising by 18 percent) and places where prices are plummeting (in Jackson, Miss., prices are falling by 24 percent; and in Denver, Colo., they’re falling by 15.6 percent),” Klein wrote.

Click here for five things you should know about marketplace open enrollment. Here are the steps you have to take to renew or change the health insurance you purchased last year through a marketplace.

Did you enroll in a health insurance plan last year using a state or federal exchange? Share your experience below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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