Health Exchanges Are Here

September 30, 2013
Health Exchanges Are Here

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TV10/55 – CBS
September 30, 2013
Affordable Health Insurance, North Shore-LIJ CareConnect Debuts

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Crain's Health Pulse
October 1, 2013
Dowling on Obamacare

The new insurance exchanges launch today, but their success can't really be measured for some five years—and by then the legislation will have been modified, predicted Michael Dowling, North Shore-LIJ's president and chief executive. Speaking yesterday on CNBC'sSquawk Box program, Mr. Dowling said we won't know for six to nine months how sales on the exchanges will play out. The true impact will be measurable years from now, after the law undergoes "modifications as we go along," he said. Mr. Dowling was somewhat critical of today's launch. "I don't think the preparation was as comprehensive as it should have been. There were many, many technical problems," he told CNBC. He also noted that there are many unknowns about the launch. "We think we know what is supposed to happen [today]. Quite frankly, I don't think we know what will happen [today]. … We don't know how people's behavior will change. We don't know what employers will do. We don't know what the hell the 27- 28- 29-year olds will do. Only time will tell." One thing that was clear to Mr. Dowling was the reason why North Shore-LIJ is selling its first insurance product on the New York State of Health exchange. "I want to get into the business of promoting health and not just in the business of treating illness," he said. "My job is to manage population health."

Long Island Business News
Obamacare Exchanges Set to Go Live Tuesday
by Claude Solnik
September 30, 2013

 In one of the biggest moments in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, states including New York on Tuesday plan to open online health insurance exchanges.

New York’s online health insurance exchange site on Monday indicated it would begin taking enrollment the next day, although no one knows how many people will buy through the new marketplace.

The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System said it plans to launch its new insurance operation, North Shore-LIJ CareConnect, online through the exchanges and in general as well.

“Tomorrow, we’ll be answering the phones and answering questions,” said Craig Hauben, manager of commercial business for North Shore-LIJ CareConnect. “For us, it’s a big moment. It doesn’t matter whether we get one or a thousand members tomorrow. We need to be ready for them all. For us, it’s a big day. “

Government and insurers, however, aren’t the only ones with obligations to be meet. Companies are required to send letters to employees, informing them of the existence of the exchanges and explaining basic information.

“Lots of letters have gone out. Many people have been working to send the letters out,” Hauben said. “In smaller groups, a number probably haven’t, because they don’t know they have to send out a communication.”

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and individuals who need insurance starting Tuesday can go to the online marketplace an shop for plans that best meet their needs and budget.
There are four metal-based tiers – bronze, silver, gold, platinum – ranging from least-to-most comprehensive and expensive. All plans must offer services in 10 categories of essential health benefits such as hospitalization, maternity care and preventive care.

Janine Logan, spokeswoman for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, said some individuals can qualify for subsidies based on income and businesses could qualify for tax credits, depending on their contribution to employees’ health insurance.

Long Island small businesses and individuals can shop the state’s online insurance marketplace online at or call the New York state customer service number at 1 (855) 355-5777 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

They also can visit Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council’s Navigator Office at 1383 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 26, Hauppauge, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, where state-trained navigators will assist individuals and businesses in choosing plans.

As state exchanges geared up, opposition to the Affordable Care Act also shifted into high gear. Twila Brase, co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, views Tuesday as a day government alters its role in insurance.

She called Tuesday an “independence day” from “intrusive government-run state health exchanges,” urging people to opt out and enroll in policies through traditional means.

“The national exchange system is not a marketplace to buy health insurance,” Brase said. “It is a federal command and control center.”

October 1, 2013
NYS: Overwhelming Response Slows Health Exchange Site

Ten million visits to the state's health insurance website overloaded the online marketplace when it launched Tuesday.

The slowdown started early when the state reported that within hours of opening, New York's website registered more than 2 million hits. The computer problems were mirrored around the country, including on the federal website.

"Since its launch, has gotten approximately 10 million web visits, far more than was anticipated, causing login problems for users," Donna Frescatore, executive director of the health benefit exchange, called NY State of Health, said in a statement. "In response to these issues, operators at the state's call center have assisted thousands of callers while our technicians have increased the site's capacity."

Frescatore said more than 9,000 New Yorkers, including business owners and individuals, got onto the site and actively shopped online Tuesday. State officials declined to say how many of them selected a health insurance plan.

NY State of Health is the state's online marketplace for individuals, families and businesses with 50 or fewer employees, as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. State exchanges and a federal site allow users to choose from private insurance plans for coverage to take effect Jan. 1.

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said 2.8 million people visited -- the website for those states that opted not to operate their own exchange.

Despite the technical difficulties, state-trained "navigators" at the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council were able to help the 25 or so people who showed up at its Hauppauge office Tuesday morning. The council is one of the state-designated "navigator" agencies on Long Island.

Peter Carmona, 29, of Brentwood, said he already had health insurance but was looking for something with a deductible lower than his current level of $1,250. Carmona said he is healthy but two weeks earlier, he had barely escaped unscathed from a car accident.

"I shudder to think how much that could have cost me," he said of medical costs.

He said the navigator told him that with his income as a professor's assistant at Suffolk County Community College, he might qualify for government-funded Medicaid.

"I just have to bring them in some more information," he said.

Patricia Parine, 54, of Copiague, said she had full health coverage for herself, her two children and domestic partner until her hours as a retail manager were cut back in March. A lung cancer survivor with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parine said one of her two medications costs her $310 a month.

She too said she was told by the navigator she could qualify for Medicaid.

"Realistically, I need it," she said.

Despite the computer issues, Tuesday's efforts represented a good beginning for the exchange, council spokeswoman Janine Logan said. "From our perspective, it went very well," she said.

Alan Murray, chief executive of North Shore-LIJ CareConnect, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's new health insurance company, said the computer problems were a hindrance, but the company still saw a 20 percent increase in calls Tuesday.

Nick Rosen-Wachs, a spokesman for Oscar, a new insurance company based in Manhattan that is one of eight offering plans in Suffolk and one of nine offered in Nassau, said "things are going great for Oscar. They've had thousands of people on the site."


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