DENVER - The CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, the state's official health insurance exchange, freely admits the launch of the site was "not perfect," but overall she's pleased with how the first few weeks of operations have gone.
At the same time, she's defending a decision by the exchange's board to provide public information about how many people have signed up on a monthly basis.
Some other states have opted for more transparency, releasing figures weekly or even daily.
"I'm not sure that we're not transparent," said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Patty Fontneau. "It really is a function of saying this is a long-term effort and we are continuing to grow our numbers and we prefer to focus on those on a monthly basis instead of a daily or weekly."
Asked whether she anticipates the rate of signups to improve, Fontneau grins and says, "we'll see," declining to give a hint of how things have been going since week one.
By next October, she says, the exchange hopes to have signed up about 135,000 people, which would be deemed a "mid" range of performance. Officials set a "low" performance estimate of 75,000 people and a "high" target of 200,000.
Figures for the entire month of October are expected to be released in early November.
Meantime, she's had time to reflect on how the website itself has performed.
"We had some bumps along the way," said Patty Fontneau. "In those first few days we had account creation problems."
Those have largely been ironed out, and indeed, the issues with Colorado's exchange pale in comparison to the myriad problems with healthcare.gov, the national exchange being used by most other states.
However, Colorado's exchange does still lack some of the basic functionality its designers planned to include.
It is possible to go onto the website, get prices, and buy an insurance plan in Colorado. But if you have low enough income to qualify for subsidies, you'll need to make a phone call to get the discount applied to your monthly premium.
If you don't want to call in, you can skip that step and simply take the tax credit when you fill out your 2014 income taxes, but that option is likely to be much less palatable than a lower premium to people with incomes low enough to qualify.
Fontneau says the web-based system to apply the discount was finished before the October 1 launch, but there wasn't enough time to test it for bugs.
"We wanted to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we gave you the tax credit, it was done accurately," said Fontneau.
Since the launch, she says, the exchange has been able to activate a feature that allows users to filter results by available providers, allowing people to choose insurance accepted by their current doctors.
Much of the scrutiny around the federal exchange has fallen on a contractor called CGI, which also worked on Colorado's and other state exchanges.
In Colorado, the company acted as "systems integrator," which means they coordinated several software products to perform the functions on the state's website. Most of connectforhealthco.com was built using programs that can be purchased on the shelf, then customized.
While the company is being chastised for its work on the national exchange, Colorado's officials say they've had no problems with the contractor.
"CGI has been a great partner to us and has worked very well with us over the last year and a half," said Fonteau.
When it's all said and done, the success of Colorado's exchange will be judged by how many uninsured people get covered, to bring their premiums and health risks into the health insurance pool.
The Affordable Care Act does set out fines to penalize people who don't buy insurance, which are relatively modest in the initial year.
An good salesperson doesn't typically sell you car insurance by talking about the fine for driving without it, they sell you by talking about the costs you might have to pay if you get in an accident.
The people with the health exchange follow a similar method for skeptical clients.
"My pitch would have nothing to do with the fine," said Fontneau. "It's just important to have health insurance, because we never know what's going to happen to us."
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