If you think you purchased health insurance through the federal Obamacare exchange, you may not be out of the woods yet.
Up to one-third of HealthCare.gov customers enrollment records have been affected by the Obama administration’s blunders in setting up the federal exchange, according to the Washington Post.
The flagship federal exchange’s poor setup has failed to allow many consumers to access the website and input their information; but once the federal government has the data another set of errors rolls in.
Insurance companies get patient applications through forms called 834s, but the Obama administration has been hard put to get the forms to insurance companies in a manner they can read.
White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness denied that as many as a third of the enrollment records aren’t right.
“We’ve got a team of experts already working closely with issuers to make sure that every past and future 834 is accurate. We’re confident they’ll succeed,” McGuinness told the Washington Post.
While denying the number, the White House refused to provide an error rate of its own.
On a call with reporters Monday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) spokeswoman Julie Bataille also declined to provide numbers on problems with the enrollment records provided to insurers, despite repeated questioning from reporters.
Bataille did contend that one bug that caused 80 percent of the problems with the forms was fixed by the Obama administration’s November 30 deadline, but when pressed for details about the remaining glitches she had no response.
“That’s the information I’ve got today,” Bataille said, despite repeated requests for an actual rate on the Form 834 errors.
The “bug” that CMS say it has eradicated had prevented insurers from processing customers’ Social Security numbers from the forms. It’s not clear whether the fix includes corrections for those who have already purchased insurance.
But though the primary flaw has been fixed, others may remain. Customers have been inexplicably left off the list of new patients sent to each insurance company each night, keeping even the few who have managed to get through HealthCare.gov and purchased insurance from actual enrollment in a plan.
The problem was discovered when five major insurers began working with CMS and trading customer lists in October.
“When plans have checked this, they realize there is a good number there is no record of,” an insurance industry official told the Washington Post.
While the consumer experience of Obamacare has been the public’s primary focus, with less than one month left before Americans are required to have health coverage or pay the penalty, ensuring that HealthCare.gov’s back-end operations are functioning properly is more pressing than ever, but the administration admitted that it’s behind on that too.
Deputy chief information officer for CMS, Henry Chao, told Congress on November 19 that at least 30 percent of the website hadn’t even been built yet — including the parts that send information to insurance companies and process payments.
With such problems, it’s no wonder that the Obama administration is now advising Americans who have purchased Obamacare insurance to double check with their insurers before January 1 to make sure they actually have coverage.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that CMS will contact users “to let them know to be in touch with their insurer to pay their first premium to ensure that coverage kicks in.”
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