Health insurance exchanges have to contend with more than technical difficulties

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Problems with health insurance exchanges extend beyond technology

Health insurance is a hot topic in the U.S., and will likely remain so for the next few years due to the controversy created by the Affordable Care Act. This controversy began in 2010, when the law was officially passed, and has gained momentum ever since. This year, one of the most significant aspects of the law came into play: Health insurance exchanges throughout the country went live on October 1. The exchanges had been heralded by the federal government as marketplaces where people could find affordable, yet comprehensive health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the exchanges have yet to live up to this promise of health care reform.

The problem with the exchanges has little to do with whether or not they are offering affordable policies to consumers. Instead, the problem with exchanges lies with people’s dubious ability to access these marketplaces. Throughout the country, exchanges have been crippled by serious technical difficulties that have prevented people from accessing exchange websites. These problems are associated with software and hardware faults that have been discovered in the federal exchange network. There are 34 states that rely on the federal government to run their exchanges, and the faults with the federal network have left these exchanges in a useless insurance exchanges

Exchanges may not be popular with consumers

While technical difficulties have caused serious trouble for federal exchanges, these problems may only be the tip of the iceberg. According to research from Avalere Health, even states with functioning exchanges are seeing very low enrollment numbers. These states have opted to run their own health insurance exchanges and account for a combined total of 49,100 enrollees as of November 10, 2013. Avalere predicts that some 1.4 million people will have enrolled in the exchanges run by 12 states.

editors choiceExactly why enrollment rates are so low is difficult to tell for sure. In the 12 states that have chosen to operate their own exchanges, these exchanges have managed to avoid the majority of the technical difficulties that have plagued their federal counterparts. The issue then may lie with a lack of awareness among consumers. States had been working to market their exchanges, but these efforts seem to have fallen short. Another possible factor could be related to the controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act itself. The federal law is unpopular with many people throughout the country, and they may be avoiding exchanges because of their disapproval of the legislation.

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