Primary Care System Handling Obamacare Surge … So Far

Agents played key role in California’s Obamacare enrollment – Los Angeles Times

In that time, the federal government has spent billions expanding community health centers while private practices have added nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and adopted electronic health records. “Despite the widely publicized shortage of primary care physicians, primary care capacity does exist in each state,” said Karin Rhodes, director of the Center for Emergency Care Policy & Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Rhodes was the lead author of a study published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine in which researchers posing as new patients called about 8,000 primary care practices in 10 states. The vast majority quickly secured appointments, although those with Medicaid had a tougher time. Physicians scheduled visits for 85% of callers posing as patients with private insurance, and for 58% of those posing as patients with Medicaid. Median wait times were just under one week.
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The Truth Behind the Obamacare “Death Spiral” (WLP)

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It was hesitant to advertise free, in-person assistance until more counselors were available, and Lee said he didn’t want to just promote agents. The state’s advertising didn’t prominently mention counselors and agents until February. “We didn’t want to put the thumb on the scale for one or the other,” Lee said. “Part of the reason we did not say go find an agent or counselor early on was because we were still certifying them. You could fault us for not doing that sooner.” The exchange said that late start was the primary reason why enrollment counselors accounted for only 9% of sign-ups, or 116,000 people. The state’s call center handled another 9% of enrollment. Consumer advocates had pushed for a large contingent of enrollment counselors, in part, because of long-standing concerns about agents steering people to certain health insurers.
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