Call Centers Received Big Obamacare Contracts

Exactly how big remains unclear in some states.

Call operators answer phones on the first day of Obamacare at an eHealthInsurance Services Inc. call center in Sacramento, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 1 2013. The Obamacare insurance exchanges struggled to handle a flood of consumer interest that closed the U.S. website for much of the day, and caused start up delays for most of the marketplaces run by the states. 
Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Sophie Novack
Nov. 5, 2013, 2:31 a.m.

As prob­lems per­sist with Health­Care.gov, oth­er busi­nesses in­volved in the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the Af­ford­able Care Act have re­ceived less at­ten­tion. This in­cludes call cen­ters, which also re­ceived big con­tracts, Kais­er Health News re­ports.

In state ex­changes, the call-cen­ter prac­tices dif­fer by state, with some set­ting up their own and oth­ers con­tract­ing out­side com­pan­ies to run them. 

While some of these cen­ters are more forth­com­ing about costs, oth­ers are not mak­ing that in­form­a­tion pub­lic.

Max­imus, the com­pany con­trac­ted to run the call cen­ter for Con­necti­c­ut’s state ex­change, Ac­cess Health CT, said in a press re­lease that its con­tract was val­ued at $15 mil­lion over three years, but it would not give ad­di­tion­al in­form­a­tion. Ac­cess CT would not con­firm that fig­ure.

Max­imus says that re­leas­ing pri­cing in­form­a­tion would dam­age com­pet­i­tion in what it says is a highly com­pet­it­ive in­dustry.

Ideally, call-cen­ter prices wouldn’t mat­ter be­cause people would sign up on the web­site, Rick Howard, an ana­lyst at tech­no­logy re­search firm Gart­ner, told Kais­er. “This is just a really com­plic­ated, ini­tially, en­roll­ment cycle,” he said. “Once the web­sites con­tin­ue to evolve, then I would ex­pect, over time, call cen­ter activ­it­ies to be greatly re­duced from what they were here in the first months or year of the mar­ket­place.”

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