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November 4th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

Obamacare 'War Room' docs: We're concerned next media story is some consumers getting on website and finding fewer options, higher prices

By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper

Washington (CNN) - Officials expressed concern that the next shoe to drop in the evolving story about the Affordable Care Act would be disappointment from consumers once they are able to get on the troubled HealthCare.gov website – disappointment because of sticker shock and limited choice, according to a new document obtained by CNN.

“Mike described a general concern of PM (plan management team): getting to the point where the website is functioning properly and individuals begin to select plans; the media attention will follow individuals to plan selection and their ultimate choices; and, in some cases, there will be fewer options than would be desired to promote consumer choice and an ideal shopping experience. Additionally, in some cases there will be relatively high cost plans,” say the notes from the Obama administration’s Obamacare 'War Room' from one week ago.

Plan management team is a reference to those individuals in the Obama administration tasked with standing up the president's health care law at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

The discussion appeared to be in reference to an October 24 story by The New York Times titled “Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices for Rural Areas.”

“While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges," the newspaper reported. "Of the roughly 2,500 counties served by the federal exchanges, more than half, or 58 percent, have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers, according to an analysis by The Times of county-level data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. In about 530 counties, only a single insurer is participating. The analysis suggests that the ambitions of the Affordable Care Act to increase competition have unfolded unevenly, at least in the early going, and have not addressed many of the factors that contribute to high prices.”

Read: For many, Obama's promise of health care choice does not ring true

Other notes from the war room meeting describe specific “problem plans,” and a problem with the site that prevents certification, perhaps due to a misspelling on the website.

“These are notes taken by contractors, they are not official agency positions," Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in an e-mail.

Peters also highlighted affordable options for consumers, noting "Nearly all consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, and often many more. About 95% of consumers live in states with average premiums below earlier estimates."

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