CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Although the problems associated with the Affordable Care Act have eased at least some, the numbers of people signing up for an exchange continued to be sluggish through this week.
The state’s lone provider through ACA, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has registered just over 1,200 in their packages. There is a fear it isn’t nearly enough to sustain the program.
“Obviously is much lower than they projected or would have liked,” said Perry Bryant of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. “They were projecting to have 20 to 25,000 and they are less than 10 percent of that.”
Bryant points out more than half of the enrollees in the Highmark plan came on board since December 1. He said that was an indication things were headed in the right direction, but not nearly fast enough.
Bryant blamed some of the frustration and lagging enrollment on the problems with the federal exchange website, but added he thought the Tomblin administration could have done a much better job informing the public about the program.
“An awful lot of people don’t know about this at all,” Bryant said. “The governor’s office could have gotten 100 percent federal funds to operate TV and radio commercials to inform people, but they decided not to do that.”
The decision could come at a heavy price to Highmark since it’s unlikely many of those seeking the initial coverage are young and healthy as so many of the exchange plans depend on.
“There are mechanisms to balance out that risk,” Bryant said. “But there’s a lot of speculation there won’t be enough to make them whole unless we get a lot more people enrolled.”