As many as a third of the records of those who’ve enrolled at Healthcare.gov contain errors

 

By Dave Andrusko

obamacarefailClearly President Obama subscribes to the “best defense is a good offense” school of thought. Here’s the headline to a CBS News story this morning: “With site on the mend, Obama makes new PR push.”

Wait a minute! “On the mend”? Compared to what? That’s surely not what the devastating lead story in the Washington Post told readers over their breakfast this morning.

Its three-tiered headline read “Health-care.gov makes frequent enrollment errors: Up to one-third possibly affected—Some people may not have coverage they expect.”

Over at ABC News, there is more of the same. “New Obamacare Headache: Is Your Enrollment Real?”

There is a reason the Obama administration has told allies not to make an all-out push for people to try to immediately sign up at Healthcare.gov. At the rate mistakes are being made, the more people that sign up, the more snarled the system becomes as insurers can’t make heads from tails.

Here’s the opening written by the Post’s Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin. It’d be hard to think of something more unnerving:

“The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.

“The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.

“The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since HealthCare.gov opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.

“Figuring out how to clean up the backlog of errors and prevent similar ones in the future is emerging as the new imperative if the federal insurance exchange is to work as intended.”

Or as the New York Times put it

“The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that will not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.

“In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder.”

Then there is Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Georgia, who told ABC News’s Devin Dwyer and Mary Bruce that after weeks of trying he’d “fully enrolled in a new health insurance plan through the federal marketplace over the weekend, and received a Humana policy ID number to prove it. But two days later, his insurer has no record of the transaction, Shlora said, even though his account on the government website indicates that he has a plan.”

Shlora, 61, was really annoyed by what he called the “false braggadocio” coming from the White House which he believes is making it worse.

“’The White House announced that they have met their goal,’ he said of the much-touted improvements to the website. ‘They are taking applications but they aren’t going anywhere. What kind of goal is that?’”

If that weren’t maddening enough, we read

“For those who thought they enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange since October, the Obama administration now advises that individuals contact their insurance company to verify coverage and if none exists, to start all over again.

“’Consumers should absolutely call their selected plan, confirm that they have paid their first month’s premium and that coverage would be available to them, beginning January 1st,’ said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.”

One other key point which 99% of the public probably doesn’t know. “Under the 2010 law designed to reshape the health-care system, consumers are not considered to have coverage unless they have paid at least the first monthly insurance premium,” according to the Post. “ The errors, if not corrected, mean that tens of thousands of consumers are at risk of not having coverage when the insurance goes into effect Jan. 1, because the health plans they picked do not yet have accurate information needed to send them a bill.”

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at twitter.com/daveha. Send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.