Exchange Asks Insurance Agents To Help With Paper Applications
Last week, Covered California asked insurance brokers to help process a backlog of 25,000 paper applications in order to meet a Dec. 23 deadline for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the Orange County Register reports.
Details of Request
The exchange has asked insurance agents who originally helped consumers fill out paper applications for exchange plans to manually enter the information into the online enrollment system.
The exchange initially had said its own staff would enter the information online.
Anne Gonzalez, a Covered California spokesperson, said the exchange also has reassigned staff members to work on the paper applications in an attempt to have them all entered by the end of this week.
Insurance Industry's Reaction
Neil Crosby, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Underwriters, said, "Agents are frustrated because they helped individuals and families complete their applications and sent them in as they were instructed to do, and are finding that those applications have sat for weeks without being processed."
Crosby added that the state now "is coming back and asking them basically to do it all over again."
In addition, insurance agents say there might not be enough time to manually enter all of the applications by Dec. 23.
According to the Register, the backlog of paper applications could mean that nearly 100,000 state residents have enrolled through the exchange -- far more than the 80,000 figure reported by the exchange last month (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 12/6).
However, Brad Davis -- president of the Sacramento Association of Health Underwriters -- said "hiccups" like the backlog of paper applications could be a sign of larger problems with the exchange.
"As Dec. 23 draws ever nearer, the concerns turn to fear, and the fear could soon turn to panic," Davis said (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/6).
Website Urges Enrollment Assistance
In related news, the homepage of Covered California's website has been redesigned to include a button encouraging users to seek assistance when enrolling in a health plan through the exchange, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
Peter Lee, executive director of the exchange, said, "We think with the licensed agents, certified counselors and a working website, we're going to get everyone who wants to get coverage effective Jan. 1  through the doors."
Lee added that assisters will be available "24-7" through the Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for coverage beginning the first of the year, including the next two Sundays (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 12/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.