Individuals enrolling through the health insurance marketplaces have increased 30%-40% week-over-week across the country, said a group of exchange directors. While those numbers are taking their toll on call centers, state-run exchanges report fewer computer issues.

Enrollment

On the call, organized by pro-ACA health care organization Families USA, Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee said that through Dec. 10 75,000 have picked a plan in his state — including 15,000 alone on Dec. 9 and 10 — compared with 80,000 through all of November.

“We are seeing a huge interest. We are seeing people knowing what Covered California is,” he said. “For all of [the exchanges], six months ago no American knew [about us.] Now we are seeing very wide understanding we exist.”

In Connecticut, they are seeing nearly 1,400 enrollments a day, said Access Health CT’s Executive Director Kevin Counihan. With enrollment so far of more than 47,000 it is nearly evenly split between qualified health plans and Medicaid.

Kentucky has seen a 40% increase in enrollments since Thanksgiving and reports 92,000 enrolled, with 75% of those through Medicaid versus a qualified health plan. However, that split is shifting. It was previously an 80%-20% breakdown — a fact we are “very happy about,” said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.

In New York, they have seen a 34% increase in enrollment week-over-week and report more than 134,000 enrolled. Average daily enrollments are around 4,500 people, said Lisa Sbrana, counsel at the New York State Department of Health.

Taxing Resources

With the increased demand, exchange leaders on the Families USA call said that their computer systems are working without error. However, they all reported issues with their call centers that have led to extended hold times.

California’s Lee said that call center wait times have been close to 30 minutes recently — way more than their targeted 30 seconds.

Connecticut is experiencing 6,000 phone calls a day to call centers, with three times as many calls this week as last. “We didn’t staff up fast enough,” Counihan said, who added that starting Dec. 23, they will increase staffing 50%. Kentucky also said its call centers are stressed and its contractor, Xerox, has hired 50 additional people to take calls.

Washington State reported call volume four-to-six times what they expected, and they have doubled the number of call takers in their Spokane call center.

Brian Kalish is a reporter for HIX: Health Insurance Exchange, a SourceMedia publication.

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