Exchange Website Shows Improvement, but Enrollment Process Still Cumbersome
MADISON (December 10, 2013) ----- Enrollment efforts in the health care marketplace have been frustrating to date, but officials participating in a panel discussion December 10 in Madison on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) say it is showing signs of improvement.
The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance reported that 7,200 people in Wisconsin have signed up for health insurance through the website, healthcare.gov.
In spite of the recent improvements, Therese Pandl, president/CEO, Hospital Sisters Health System, Eastern Wisconsin Division, who was one of the five panelists, said the enrollment process is time-consuming and confusing for consumers and hospitals alike.
"Our health system has added staff, we have contracts with outside agencies to provide enrollment assistance, and we’ve held public forums and sent letters to our patients to help them better understand how to access health insurance on the exchange," according to Pandl. "However, even with all that, our enrollment counselors say the process takes an hour or two per person, so they are only able to enroll maybe five to seven people per day. It is an expensive burden for health care providers, but the one-on-one counseling is essential to help people understand their co-pays and deductibles."
Pandl joined Health and Human Services Region V Director Kathleen Falk; Kevin Hayden, CEO, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin; Kevin Moore, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Commissioner of Insurance Dan Schwartzer in a Wisconsin Health News panel discussion on issues related to the insurance exchange sponsored by the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership moderated the discussion.
Panelists agreed that Wisconsin’s health care delivery system is unique among the states in that it is highly organized and coordinated among providers. Investments in electronic health records have fostered greater efficiency and higher quality and enabled care to be coordinated across multiple settings.
"We are fortunate in Wisconsin to have eight to ten health care provider-sponsored health plans that can integrate care. We have demonstrated that we can increase health care quality in Wisconsin and bend the cost curve," Pandl said. "Through all the regulatory changes we are facing as an industry as the ACA is implemented, we want to make sure that we preserve the system of care in Wisconsin."
The full panel discussion was taped by and posted on Wisconsin Eye wiseye.org. Therese Pandl’s comments are at time code 48:30-52:37. To obtain permission to use footage, contact Wisconsin Eye at 608- 316-6850.