"People who may have been discouraged early on need to go out and try again, because I think they'll be much more successful," he said.
Because of the technical problems, Highmark might have problems getting enough young and healthy people signed up in the marketplace, said Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Care. The older, sicker people are more likely to keep trying to enroll on the exchange because they're desperate to get health insurance, Bryant said. That could lead to higher costs for those who are enrolled.
"Adverse selection is a real concern," Bryant said. "If you only end up . . . with older, less healthy people, it doesn't work. You need a combination. Hopefully, this website, Healthcare.gov, will continue to improve and people will have a better experience and will get enrolled."
While more than 1,200 have enrolled in a health insurance plan, many more in West Virginia have enrolled in Medicaid. About 75,000 state residents have signed up for the expanded Medicaid program, Commissioner Nancy Adkins said Tuesday. That number does not include people who might have signed up for Medicaid on the federal website or those children who will transfer to Medicaid from the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Of those enrolled, 62,376 had enrolled through auto-enrollment letters sent from the state Department of Health and Human Resources and 12,605 had enrolled via the state Medicaid enrollment website -- for a total of 74,981, according to a DHHR spokeswoman.
Bryant said much of the credit for the successful Medicaid enrollment is due to DHHR employees who made follow-up calls to those SNAP recipients and others who got auto-enrollment letters from the department, Bryant said. The DHHR sent 118,000 letters to those enrolled in the food assistance program and to the parents of children who are on Medicaid.
Bryant said he's almost positive West Virginia is a leader in the nation for enrollment in expanded Medicaid.
"It's really impressive," Bryant said. "It's really, really impressive. That's a lot of work, but it will pay huge dividends for a lot of low-income West Virginians."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.