Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Obama officials meet with insurance CEOs

kathleen sebelius

Obama's health and human services chief Kathleen Sebelius will meet with health insurance CEOs at the White House on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) As technical issues continue to plague the sign-up for Obamacare, several major health insurer CEOs are headed to Washington to talk to White House officials Wednesday.

Aetna (AET, Fortune 500) CEO Mark Bertolini, Wellpoint (WLP, Fortune 500) CEO Joseph R. Swedish and Humana Inc. (HUM, Fortune 500) CEO Bruce Broussard will attend the meeting, representatives of those companies confirmed.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with the CEOs, CNN confirmed Wednesday.

On Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act started allowing consumers to shop and sign up for subsidized health insurance coverage. But the President's signature healthcare sign-up Web page has not been able to keep up with the traffic volume and been plagued by glitches, making it tough for Americans to sign up for insurance coverage.

Wellpoint is one of the larger participants in Obamacare, with health exchanges in 14 states where it operates on Blue Cross Blue Shield licenses.

Aetna offers coverage in 10 states, through Aetna or Coventry Health Care, which was acquired this spring, spokeswoman Cynthia Michener confirmed. The firm is also offering coverage in seven other states, but just in "limited geographic areas," she said.

Aetna has received much criticism for withdrawing from a number of states where it had originally applied to offer health insurance, including California, New York and New Jersey.

Humana is another larger participant offering insurance on state health exchanges in Illinois, Mississippi, Kentucky and Colorado, among others.

Cigna (CI, Fortune 500) CEO David Cordani was invited but was unable to attend, according to a spokesman.

In an interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sebelius said Tuesday she and her department are concerned about the technical problems surrounding the Obamacare website's rollout.

The site was supposed to make it simple for people to search and sign up for new health care policies starting on Oct. 1. But instead, it has been clunky and, at times, inoperable.

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"We're not at all satisfied with the workings of the website," Sebelius said. "We want it to be smooth and easy, and let consumers compare plans."

The Secretary attributed some of the problems to "extremely high" volume, saying nearly 20 million people have come to the Obamacare website in the first three weeks after it launched.

Yet only a fraction of those visitors have signed up for new health-care policies.

In the meantime, a team of high-tech experts from within the government and from Silicon Valley is going to tackle the issues, Sebelius said. Jeff Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, will lead the team.

Besides Sebelius, the insurance chiefs will meet with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, according to Politico, which first reported the meeting.

-- CNN's Laura Koran, Kevin Liptak, Greg Botelho and Holly Yan contributed to this report. To top of page

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