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Analysts say Hawaii exchange worst in nation

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Some public exchanges that are off to a slow start could catch up, but analysts are starting to identify possible winners and losers.

Analysts at HealthPocket, a health plan data company, found that Connecticut’s Access Health CT and Rhode Island’s HealthSource RI site are working the best compared to other states’ exchanges.

Access Health CT reported that it had processed 1,847 applications as of Oct. 10, and HealthSource RI officials said they had processed about 2,000 applications as of Wednesday.

The same cannot be said for Hawaii’s Hawai’i Health Connect and Minnesota’s MNsure sites, exchanges researchers said are working especially poorly.

HealthPocket said Hawaii was rated lowest among the state exchanges due to a lack of web site functionality. At the time of testing, Hawaii’s exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector, did not have online health comparison functionality released.

Hawaii just got its exchange enrollment system running Wednesday. Hawaii exchange managers have not yet started reporting application numbers.

MNsure managers started releasing enrollment figures today. They said they have taken 5,569 applications, but Minnesota Public Radio is reporting that it’s not clear whether any insurers have received the information they need to issue coverage.

HealthPocket analysts used a team of five testers to test the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange websites of all 50 states and the District of Columbia from Oct. 11 through Oct. 15.

The analysts graded the sites based on users’ ability to shop anonymously, the number of steps needed to compare plans, call center wait times, and customer support answer accuracy.

A few enrollment sites, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ site, were still generating errors or working slowly last week. Most of the other sites were working reasonably well, the HealthPocket analysts said.

What should managers of enrollment sites that continue to work poorly do? 

Carol Taylor, an benefits advisor at D&S Agency, a United Benefit Advisors partner firm, said managers of exchanges with balky sites may have go with paper applications; encourage consumers to enroll directly through the carrier websites, and have the carriers work with HHS to calculate premium subsidies; or let licensed producers in call centers do the subsidy calculations over the phone.

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