There's much to observe as the Obama Administration prepares for the upcoming open enrollment period for the federal health insurance exchange (HIX). The initial problem-laden rollout of the program online, followed by countless exceptions, extensions, delays, and controversial court rulings has cost billions of unplanned dollars and valuable human resources. Many federal appointed IT folks have stepped down due to the rollout, and there have also already been several state exchanges that have folded to become part of the federal program. There are pending lawsuits in Oregon related to its botched rollout and data discrepancies still being reported in several states, with an impending threat of coverage loss if the deadline for missing information is not met. Additionally, there are still Americans out there who don't know what the federal health insurance marketplace is, according to results from a survey in New Mexico that assessed the success (or failure) of the awareness campaign that was executed there.
In the meantime, marketplace insurance premiums are rising, as are deductibles. Enrollments in some states, however, are decreasing. Florida's state insurance department reported a nearly 25% decrease of enrolled individuals as compared to the government's reported figures. Still other states are reporting enrollees having trouble making changes to their policy due to a life event, for example the birth of a new baby. There are concerns about lack of coverage. While I'm sure this is just the short list of some of the issues that are still out there, hope is running high for a smooth enrollment period for this year.
Without resolution to most of the issues, however, it seems unlikely—and providers will remain in the dark a while longer—about the changes in utilization due to the new healthcare law.
Claudette Lew is associate editor of ImagingBiz.