A Few Successes For Alaska’s Health Insurance Marketplace

Enroll Alaska has successfully signed up seven people this week for health insurance on the state’s new Affordable Care Act Marketplace, but nearly three weeks into the launch of the marketplace, the company expected to have many more people enrolled.

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Tyann Boling, the COO of Enroll Alaska, says despite a few successes, the Marketplace is far from working perfectly.

“I would say it’s kind of two steps forward, one step back,” Boling said. “Some things are functioning a little bit better and then there are glitches in other areas.”

“It overall is very challenging. It’s definitely not functioning at the level we need it to function.”

Boling says it takes up to three hours to successfully enroll an individual in a health insurance plan. But patience doesn’t always pay off.

“You know we’re trying to enroll much more people than we’re actually able to enroll,” she said. “But the problem is, sometimes it works and the majority of the time it doesn’t”

Boling says she’s disappointed the Marketplace is working so poorly, but confident it will eventually be running smoothly. Democratic Senator Mark Begich agrees.

“You know, they’ll work out the glitches,” Begich said. “It is technology and they’ll figure it out and at the end of the day, Alaskans will have 34 insurance programs to choose from.”

Begichs says the state based marketplaces are working much better than the ones the federal government is running. He says Alaska could have avoided many of the problems with the marketplace if the state had agreed to build its own.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie