The federal Obamacare exchange is still struggling with technological issues less than two weeks away from the second year’s launch, Kaiser Health News reports.
HealthCare.gov famously struggled with every kind of tech glitch during its launch last October and customers may still experience problems this year as well. The back-end of the website, which sends enrollment information between insurers and the Obama administration, still isn’t finished.
“Everyone reports that there are still back-end issues,” Joel Ario, a director at Manatt Health Care Solutions, told KHN. “That means there will be some cleaning up to do in terms of reconciling accounts and making sure payments are correct and the coverage dates are correct.”
Because the back-end still isn’t fully automated yet, insurers won’t be able to tell for sure whether a returning HealthCare.gov customer has auto-renewed their HealthCare.gov plan or has switched to another insurer, according to Kaiser. Insurers will have to wait until Dec. 15 for the Obama administration to send a termination file.
That could leave customers who switch plans being stuck with two different bills or being lost in the system. Customers who switch plans instead of keeping their coverage year to year are likely to see a lower premium increase. (RELATED: Many Obamacare Customers Will Have To Switch Plans Or Face Skyrocketing Costs)
“If people would shop, they could find a better deal, particularly if pricing moves around as much as it is with the different carriers this year,” Ario said. “The big question is how many people will actually read the material that comes to them.”
A Monday poll found that a majority of last year’s Obamacare customers don’t plan to purchase their exchange coverage again at all, even though most expected the websites to operate much more smoothly this year. (RELATED: Survey: Majority Of Last Year’s Obamacare Customer Won’t Return)
“Much work remains to be done, including testing and implementing a permanent, fully automatic back-end financial system to reconcile payment, subsidy, and eligibility data,” said Aetna spokesman Walt Cherniak.
Unlike last year, the Obama administration has given Obamacare insurers over one month to test out HealthCare.gov’s operations before the next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, but issued a preliminary warning that the workings of the website is confidential and not to be shared with the media. (RELATED: Admin Forces Insurers To Keep Quiet About HealthCare.gov Problems)
“There is still work that needs to be done on the back-end system,” America’s Health Insurance Plans spokeswoman Clare Krusing said. “It’s an issue we have on the radar and working toward the finding the right solution that works for consumers.”
The administration’s small business exchange is reportedly still suffering several defects as well. The administration told The New York Times the glitches were found in testing and the website should be working by the time it launches Nov. 15. (RELATED: Flaws Found In Testing Of Delayed Obamacare SHOP Exchanges)