PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – The president of West Virginia Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield said Thursday he’s disappointed with the numbers from the first month sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act. Only 198 West Virginians successfully navigated healthcare.gov to sign up with Highmark in the health insurance exchange.

“That number is significantly below what we had anticipated to be coming in to this point in time. I think the problems at this stage with the functionality of the exchange website has played a crucial role in that,” explained Fred Early.

The website has caused a lot of frustration for those trying to find an insurance policy on the marketplace. Early stressed that is bad for business.

“It is troubling. Our concern is that, with the difficulties that people are facing with it, people are going to get frustrated and go away from it.”

President Obama has promised the site will be vastly improved by the end of the month. Perry Bryant with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care says that is critical.

“That’s a lot later than I would like. That’s really a disappointment,” stated Bryant. But he stressed you can’t delay putting off implementation for another year because it will ultimately undermine the success of the program.

“Delaying the individual responsibilities for a year just compounds the adverse selection. It takes away one of the legs of that stool of getting people enrolled,” said Bryant.

Early is hoping the fix works so West Virginians can start signing up via healthcare.gov en mass. The Highmark executive said that is key in order to have a marketplace that works.

“We need to get a robust pool of people to sign up on the marketplace,” explained Early. “That includes more than just those who have significant health conditions that are going to be high cost utilizers. You need to have young and healthy people in the pool as well in order to stabilize the pool and keep rates setting.”

Earlier this month, 8,000 current Highmark policy holders received letters saying their policies with the company did not meet specific regulations under the ACA. That means they’ll have to sign up for a new policy that does qualify. Early stressed those customers do have a buffer period.

“We have given them the option to renew their policies in December and continue those policies up to a year beyond that if they so choose.” Early said. “It’s strictly at their choice.”

Once 2015 arrives, those policy holders would have to sign-up for an ACA-approved plan.

The deadline to sign up on healthcare.gov in order for a policy to be in place by the first of the year and avoid a penalty, is Dec. 15. Early said they are expecting more people to hop back on the website in the coming weeks to make that deadline.

“We can still get all the people in if they exercise patience and some diligence to go back in. So I think we’ll still be alright,” according to Early. “But we need to get the enrollment much more robust than it is today.”

Highmark is currently the only insurance provider in the state’s marketplace.

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Comments

  • Docbegone

    2014 can't come soon enough.

  • El Supremo

    Obamacare is the first step in the Democrats creation of a new entitlement-state liberalism.

    Obamacare provides health insurance plans through government that ARE MORE EXPENSIVE with coverage that consumers DON'T WANT and DON'T NEED. The overcharge will be used to subsidize others.

    If you think voters are upset now, wait till next fall, when voters start losing their employer-provided health plans due to ObamaCare.

    Remember too, Obama promised that this would happen "without adding one dime to our deficits."

    OBAMACARE IS WHOLLY OWNED BY THE DEMOCRATS (Obama, Pelosi, Reed, Manchin and Jay). When you vote next time, remember these politicians and their desire to control every aspect of your existence.

  • Art in Ohio

    This is hurting the American people at the kitchen table trying to balance a home budget. The President has hit us inside our home with higher health cost. This law is to help people in the inner city. I hope it's worth it... What a mess...

  • Meltzen

    Lets see Gov messes it up beyond belief they pass the blame....manuplate people in thinking they had nothing to do with it...manuplate people again making them believe they have the solution to fix it while they messed up and Gov slyly comes into to take over..... It is documented that after the healthcare was signed to law 3 months after that Obama came in changed the wording so that people's insurance that they had would become void. Right now we see the private insurance policy's being eliminated next year we will see employer based insurance policies being cancelled. Also since Obamacare doesn't cover dental or vision watch as both of these prices sky rocket.

  • wvtd

    lets take the legs out of this takeover. don't sign up and let it fail. we needed reform not a radical socialist takeover of the worlds greatest health care system.

  • susanf1218

    Disapppointing for whom?? I am not disappointed that large numbers of people haven't
    signed on for their free or reduced health care coverage, paid for compliments of me and other working, taxpaying citizens!

    • wvtd

      nor am I. this whole idea is off the charts. reform was needed but nothing as radical as this train wreck. where are we at now? $400.000.000 +and counting of our wasted tax dollars on a no bid contract to michele obamas classmate for a pathetic website , higher premiums, lost coverage, no coverage for pre-existing conditions and now more people without insurance than before obamacare, just wait until the employer mandate takes effect. obama has been a failure since day 1.

      I hope for a change from these utopian democrats in 2014. all we see now are more lie's from a liar. this is the most corrupt president our nation has ever seen and we have 3 years left of his inept leadership. wake up America.

  • just saying

    Is the President going to now go and change the law that requires that private insurance policies must meet the standards of the ACA-will he reduce those standards??? And by the way, when did the insurance companies become a part of the government that the President can just jerk around on a chain??? Aren't they a private company?? So, in a year, the system won't be "broke" anymore?? would it have not been better to get the un-insured coverage than to mess with everybody else's insurance?? just saying...

  • Big Dave

    Probably because so many in this state are eligible for Medicaid.

  • blugldmn

    Jm.... Do the reasons you cite prevent those people from getting WIC, food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, free daycare, free prescriptions, Medicare, disability, etc.,?

  • blugldmn

    Shouldn't they have to take a drug test for this government benefit?

  • PeterH

    I got sticker shock when I logged in : ~$1200 for 2 of us. Is this because Highmark BCBS is the only company serving WV in the ACA?

  • jm

    Hmmmm, did anyone ever think to figure in the numbers of elegible West Virginians that have no access to computers and the internet. Let alone the sheer numbers in our state that are not computer literate, or let alone literate.

    I for one have seen no advertising where anyone in this shape can go for assistance. I am guessing as far as the fines go......... "YOU CANNOT GET BLOOD FROM A TURNIP"

  • Larry

    I saw where the immigrant woman in the picture was being bullied so bad they had to take her picture down, because Obamacare is such a joke.

  • Richard

    Good. Obamacare is a fraud

  • Paul

    How many signed up for Medicare?