White House admits Obamacare sign-ups can be invisibly blocked

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Administration officials are telling people who think they have signed up for coverage on HealthCare.Gov to call their insurance companies so they can be sure the transaction was completed.

Software errors have invisibly blocked some completed transactions, denying health benefits to some people who think they’re signed up.

Roughly one-third of the 126,000 claimed sign-ups in October and November have been blocked by diverse errors, according to a Washington Post report.

“We’re telling consumers that if they’re not sure that they’re enrolled, they should call the call center or their insurer directly,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

“Consumers should absolutely call their selected plan and confirm that they have paid their first month’s premium, and coverage will available January 1,” Julie Bataille, the spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said Monday.

“We’re working with insurers to make sure that those who are enrolled know this information,” Carney said.

The problem has been caused by the managers of the Obamcare website, who failed to create a proper connection between the website visitors’ enrollment applications, and the databases at the insurance companies.

The problem is dubbed the “834” problem, because that’s the term given to the documents which bridge the normal gap between customers and companies. Officials claimed Dec.2 that they’ve recently fixed 80 percent of the 834 problems.

Administration officials say that roughly 126,000 people who don’t get insurance via their companies have used the website to select a commercial Obamacare-compliant health plan, in October and November.

Officials decline to say how many of those 126,000 people tried to actually enroll in the plan they selected, and they have declined to say how many people have successfully used the 834 document to make sure the health-benefit company gets their enrollment applications.

Anecdotal evidence says many visitors have stopped the enrollment process when they’ve seen the Obamacare prices. In general, people earning over $35,000 a year are charged extra for plans so that their extra funds can subsidize payments by lower-skilled people or older people.

Some applicants have come forward to say their enrollment applications have fallen into a computerized limbo between the website and the health-payments companies.

“I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it’s still going around, and it’s never going to leave the building,” Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Ga., told ABC.

“I’ve lost hope. If it happens, great,” he added.

On Sunday, White House officials announced they had met their self-selected goals of making the site usable for the “vast majority” of visitors, and of allowing 50,000 people to use the site concurrently.

However, the claim was contradicted Monday, when the website’s operators limited access to only about 35,0000 people at a time.

“The White House announced that they have met their goal,” Shlora told ABC. “They are taking applications but they aren’t going anywhere. What kind of goal is that?”

Officials say they have to enroll 7 million people — including many young and healthy people — by March 31. Many of those people are losing their insurance on Jan 1., and so have to enroll by Dec. 23.

The catastrophic rollout has unnerved many Democratic legislators,especially those facing election in November 2014.

“I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said in April.

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