Healthcare Business News

Humana execs assume enrollment will be extended

By Paul Demko
Posted: November 6, 2013 - 7:30 pm ET

As the Obama administration continued to assure lawmakers and consumers that will be fixed soon, Humana executives suggested the enrollment period for the exchanges will be extended beyond March 31 because of the glitches that have hobbled online signups since the Oct. 1 launch.

James Murray, the insurance company's chief operating officer, expressed that opinion on a call with investors Wednesday to discuss third-quarter earnings.

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“Given where we're at today, our assumption is that there will be an extension to the open-enrollment period,” Murray said. “If there is not, then some of the numbers that we put out there would probably be in question.”

Humana is selling plans in 14 state health insurance exchanges, and CEO Bruce Broussard said the company views the exchanges as a significant opportunity. “The long-term exchange opportunity is currently being overshadowed by the issues with the federal enrollment process,” Broussard added. “These issues could potentially alter some of the assumptions around risk mix that we made as we priced our products.”

HHS and White House officials have consistently rebuffed calls for extending the open-enrollment window. Last month, though, 10 Democratic Senators signed on to a letter calling for a prolonged enrollment period.

When asked about Murray's comment on a call with reporters Wednesday, CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille gave no indication that an extension is being considered. “We believe that consumers will have ample time to enroll in the full six month open enrollment time period that is currently underway,” she said.

The CMS also confirmed that the agency's chief information officer, Tony Trenkle, is leaving for a job in the private sector.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Finance Committee that there remain “a couple of hundred” functional fixes still to be made to the website. But she insisted that it can still be fully operational by the end of November, as previously promised. “ is fixable and not fatally flawed,” Sebelius said.

Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko

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