October 25, 2013

Fewer than 100 Oklahomans Have Bought Health Coverage on Online Marketplace

Print More

Fewer than 100 Oklahomans successfully purchased health coverage through the Obama administration’s glitch-afflicted insurance marketplace during its first 2½ weeks of operation, state officials said Friday.

Deputy State Insurance Commissioner Mike Rhoads said an informal survey by his department determined that between 74 and 82 policies had been issued by Friday, Oct. 18, by the five insurers participating in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

The figure was imprecise because two companies provided a range instead of a specific number, he said.

“This is simply a snapshot,” Rhoads said. “But it’s a small, small number.”

Oklahoma’s low tally of successful sign-ups reflects the rocky launch of the online marketplace operated by the federal government in Oklahoma and 35 other states.

The federal website, http://healthcare.gov, has been plagued with problems since it began operation on Oct. 1. The inability of people to work their way through the enrollment process has become an embarrassment for the White House and the subject of congressional hearings.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are expected to obtain health coverage if they don’t already have it. The online marketplace is intended for uninsured adults who don’t qualify for public programs like Medicaid or Medicare and who can’t get affordable insurance through an employer. Federal tax credits are available to help offset the cost for those with family incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level, which is $11,490 for a single person and $23,440 for a family of four.

Rhoads said the verdict is still out on the marketplace’s long-term prospects. He said federal officials estimated before the marketplace’s launch that about 500,000 policies would be issued during the month of October. Based on that estimate, first-month sign-ups in Oklahoma should have numbered in the thousands, he said.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department, which has been highly critical of the Affordable Care Act, compiled its informal tally by contacting the five insurers providing policies on the marketplace in Oklahoma. Here are their sign-up totals as of Oct. 18:

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma: 47.
• Aetna Life Insurance Co. / Coventry Health Care Inc.: 10-15.
• CommunityCare: 12-15.
• GlobalHealth Inc.: 5.

Aetna acquired Coventry earlier this year. They are offering their plans separately in Oklahoma, but supplied a combined enrollment figure to the state.

Rhoads said federal officials were stating Friday that the website’s flaws might not be fully fixed until the end of November.