CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield admits enrollment in the individual plans the company is offering to West Virginians through the federal exchange has been “light” since the enrollment period opened on Oct. 1.
Though he would not provide specific numbers, Fred Earley said he is “disappointed” with the ongoing problems with www.healthcare.gov, the enrollment website West Virginia and more than 30 other states are using.
“We’re helping people work through it when they call into us on our lines, but there’s no secret back door that we have, as an insurer, that allows us to circumvent some of the other obstacles that people have been running into from an automated perspective,” said Earley on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“We’re still a little frustrated with the lack of functionality. I know they’re pouring every effort they can into it and we hope it will be sooner, rather than later (when the problems are addressed).”
On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is the agency responsible for the website, offered an apology.
“To the millions of Americans who have attempted to use healthcare.gov to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should,” she said.
Tavenner blamed “complex technical difficulties” and promised the problems would be fixed when she testified in front of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday. She also said specific numbers about the number of enrollees would be available by the middle of November.
On Wednesday, Tavenner’s boss, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill in front of members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Earley’s company is the only company offering health insurance plans through West Virginia’s exchange. “There’s still plenty of time for people to sign up,” he noted.
Penalties for people who do not have insurance are scheduled to take effect, as part of the Affordable Care Act, at the end of March.