Connecticut learns less is more with state health insurance website

Numbers put out Tuesday by Connecticut show that its website is the only one to sign up more folks for private insurance than for Medicaid.

Angel Medina, 21, went to talk to an Affordable Health Care act navigator in Hartford. He was dropped from his mother’s health insurance two years ago.

Angel Medina, 21, was dropped from his mother's health insurance plan two years. He learned he may be eligible for Medicaid.

Angel Medina, 21, was dropped from his mother’s health insurance plan two years. He learned he may be eligible for Medicaid.

/ CBS News

“I have really bad eyes. I like to get them checked often, but since I don’t have health insurance, no doctor’s going to really want to take a look at me,” he said.

Medina found out that he may qualify for Medicaid, which was expanded under Obamacare.

Connecticut’s ultimate goal is to sign up 275,000 people. So far, 9,123 have enrolled.

Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Connecticut’s health exchange, says he’s not discouraged by the number of people signing up for private health insurance.

“Buying health insurance is expensive and it’s expensive and it’s confusing and it’s complicated. So no, I am not disappointed by it. However, we clearly have a strong goal to meet by March,” he said.

Kevin Counihan, head of Connecticut's health insurance exchange,says the agency was careful to hire good people.

Kevin Counihan, head of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange,says the agency was careful to hire good people.

/ CBS News

By the end of March, Counihan expects to have 100,000 people enrolled. He credits the state’s computer system with the smooth rollout.

“Number one is, less is more. Do fewer things well than try to do more things inconsistently. Two is test the heck out of the system and make sure that before you go live, you are pretty darn confident that you know what is going to happen. And three is hire the best people that you can,” he said.

Counihan was involved with Massachusetts’ health insurance rollout in 2006. He says that taught him people don’t buy insurance like they do a book or car. They typically look at the options an average of 18n times before making up their minds.

He anticipates a rush of people signing up between Thanksgiving and Dec. 15, which is the deadline for coverage beginning on Jan. 1.

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