Twitter Tuesday, Twitter Tuesday! Two weeks in a row means it’s really gonna be a thing. Exciting. And a little stressful.
OK so here’s what I’ve got for you guys today: First, lots of stories this week on exactly why the federal health exchange website is not doing well at all.
The $400 million healthcare.gov hub, which serves as the exchange for the states that did not design their own online marketplace (Washington is one of only 17 that made their own) has been quite a flop for the feds — who, as I said yesterday, are not telling anyone how many people have actually signed up.
Like we saw in Washington on the first day (but Washington was able to take the site down briefly and fix the big problems), people are having trouble logging in and trouble enrolling; according to this New York Times story, customers find the user experience to be “just awful.” The story has a lot of detail on all the individual problems that culminated in what we’re seeing now.
I’ve heard/read some say that the federal government originally assumed more states would jump in and create their own exchanges, but when they didn’t, the healthcare.gov site was expanded beyond what it was meant to do.
The looming concern with all of this is that if the government can’t get the site up and running properly and at full capacity, people won’t be able to sign up for plans before December in order to get coverage by Jan. 1. Granted, enrollment this first year runs through March 31, so even if it takes a couple months to fix the site, there will still be time to enroll, but that delay in starting coverage could really impact the momentum of implementation.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, why the government didn’t hire tech wizards from Google or Amazon or someplace like that to design this thing? Hmm.
Second story of the day: Changes in Medicare plans. Now, Medicare is supposed to be largely unaffected by health reform, but stuff changes all the time anyway, so that’s fun. Medicare’s seven-week open enrollment period began today for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
According to this Kaiser Health News story, Medicare Advantage premiums will be going up, while average drug plan premiums should stay the same. Other, quieter changes in which drugs are covered and at what cost are also coming.
Basically, the story just advises Medicare patients to pay really close attention to their plans and to look around — not just stick with the plan they’ve had for years out of laziness or habit — to see if they can find cheaper options.
Reminder: You can’t buy Medicare plans in the exchange. That’s separate.
And finally, just some interesting stories that you can look at if you feel like it:
• Faces of Breast Cancer: Profiles from the New York Times. Fitting, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
• Hospital CEO pay not tied to quality of care: study by Reuters Health.
• Health-care law’s fate could hinge on political climate in individual states: Washington Post story on a cautionary report from former Capitol policy advisers.
Whew, that’s a lot. Let me know if you’ve found any other interesting health stories today; write it in the comments or email me directly.