Washington Obamacare Exchange Still Hasn’t Fixed Technical Problems

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Washington State’s Obamacare exchange is still facing billing and technical problems for 1,300 accounts from last year’s open enrollment period, just one month before Obamacare’s second year begins. 

The exchange had accumulated a backlog of 24,000 accounts with technological problems that arose when Obamacare customers first began to try to use their newly-purchased insurance this year. Six months after the last open enrollment period closed, however, the exchange still hasn’t fixed all its problems, according to the Associated Press.

Officials have just weeks to get the remaining 1,300 problem accounts straightened out before open enrollment begins on Nov. 15.

“We have made substantial progress,” Brad Finnegan, the associate operations director for the Washington Healthplanfinder, told The AP. He said the remaining problems should be dealt with by the end of this week. 

Close to one-in-five people who purchased health insurance on Washington’s Obamacare exchange were hit with a billing problem. The glitches, due partly to technological problems and partly to human error, often prevented customers from accessing their coverage.

The exchange failed to record customers’ payments in some cases. In others, the exchange did not successfully communicate coverage to insurance companies, leaving insurers with no record of customers’ purchases.

In other cases, the state-run exchange wrongly debited customers’ bank accounts — some Washington Healthplanfinder customers had double their premium amounts deducted from their accounts.

Washington Healthplanfinder tried to fix the problem in August by allowing customers to pay their insurance company directly instead of going through the exchange. Those who were eligible for subsidies, however, had to pay the entire cost of their health insurance and be reimbursed later. The AP reports that some of Washington’s Obamacare customers still have yet to receive their subsidy payments.

Finnegan said that the next open enrollment period will be easier on Washington state customers.

“People should be able to flow through the application process without receiving those error messages they received last year,” Finnegan told The AP.

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