July 14 2014

The Glitches Are Back!

Patrice J. Lee

The ObamaCare website glitches are back. This time, they’ve caused thousands of healthcare enrollees in Connecticut to lose their coverage.

According to Access Health CT, the online ObamaCare health exchange, its website miscalculated and 5,784 customers were given the wrong tax credits. That led to 3,900 of them being told they qualified for Medicaid coverage though they didn’t, others being overcharged, and some 900 being dropped by their insurers entirely. Access Health CT will begin calling customers, but some in the area are already battling the consequences.

It’s a mess caused by a backend form that the federal government and insurers use to verify the tax credit a person is entitled to. When some applicants made changes to their enrollment status it may have triggered problems with the form, but others lost their coverage for a variety of other website and process-related reasons such as not being sent required paperwork to process their accounts. Then there are those who neglected to pay for their new plans – the big asterisk we often refer to when questioning the 8 million enrollment number the Administration claimed as of the end of the first open enrollment period.

The Hartford Courant reports:

When people enroll, their information is encoded in an "834 form" by the exchange, which the federal government and insurers use to verify how much of a tax credit a person is entitled to.

A number of people made changes to their enrollment status either during or after the open enrollment period, from October through March. The only people who could change their coverage afterward are those who had a "qualifying event," such as getting married, having a child, losing a job, or some other specifically allowed circumstance.

All of the 5,784 made a change at some point, though many more also made changes but did not have any problems, Counihan said

Counihan said Access Health CT discovered what he called a "system error" on July 1, though it knew earlier in the year there was a problem with many back-office "834 forms."

The system error has been fixed temporarily with a filter that was put in place July 7, Counihan said. A permanent fix will be installed July 18, he said.

These are the kinds of glitches that remind Americans of the tumultuous rollout of ObamaCare last fall. President Obama and supporters of his signature legislation would rather put October 2013 far behind them, especially as the 2014 campaign season kicks into gear.

This issue became public when two Connecticut legislators inquired of the Access Health CT why suddenly their constituents had been dropped from their plans. Perhaps without their inquiry this problem would’ve remained unreported. We can hope other state exchanges aren’t keeping under wraps similar issues with their websites.

This is embarrassing for the state of Connecticut, whose website emerged from the rubble of failed ObamaCare websites (such as Massachusetts and Maryland) as an example of how to do it right.

Even if this episode had not happened, the failure of this website's backend is symptomatic of a larger problem with ObamaCare. The failure of the un-Affordable Care Act is not just about technology -it’s fundamental.

ObamaCare uses taxpayer dollars to subsidize expensive plans that most Americans could not afford without the help. It distorts the healthcare market and is driving higher premium and health care costs. To pay for ObamaCare, the government has devised new taxes and fees on individuals and the private sector. It’s also forced all Americans to secure healthcare and most employers to provide it, leading them to cut workers’ hours or to forgo hiring workers entirely to afford the added labor costs.

ObamaCare is the realization of admirable intentions through bad policy. Each day we see just how much worse it gets.

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