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Marketing Obamacare with less help from the feds

Elaine S. Povich, Stateline.org on

Published in Health & Fitness

In Rhode Island, 640 people signed up in the first week, up from 126 in the same time frame a year ago, according to The Providence Journal, after the state's health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI, began advertising in September.

In Maryland, twice as many people signed up on the first day, compared with last year. And a live website for sign-ups had to stay online for an extra hour one day at the start of sign-ups because so many people were in the virtual waiting room.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state health care plan, said his state is spending $111 million, slightly higher than last year's $106 million figure, on a colorful tour bus and other outreach efforts.

There are about 5,900 plans available in California this year, 25 percent more than last year, according to James Scullary, a spokesman for Covered California. Sign-ups were 25 percent higher on the first day of open enrollment, but Scullary said the state will not have more numbers until later this month.

"We know that marketing means more people sign up, they are healthier, and it reduces premiums for everybody, particularly people who don't get subsidies," Lee said. "The federal decision to cut back marketing in the states they are supporting, is bad math. You are going to have fewer Americans get coverage in those states, because of the cutback in marketing. And premiums will rise for everyone else, because the people who sign up are heathier."

 

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