Obamacare website still not working right
According to the Washington Post, 22,000 people who signed up for Obamacare on the healthcare.gov website are unable to make changes to their application because the website won't let them.
I thought the problems were all fixed two months ago.
Tens of thousands of people who discovered that HealthCare.gov made mistakes as they were signing up for a health plan are confronting a new roadblock: The government cannot yet fix the errors.
Roughly 22,000 Americans have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post. They contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.
For now, the appeals are sitting, untouched, inside a government computer. And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means - by calling the health-care marketplace directly - are told that HealthCare.gov's computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them, according to individuals inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation.
"It is definitely frustrating and not fair," said Addie Wilson, 27, who lives in Fairmont, W.Va., and earns $22,000 a year working with at-risk families. She said that she is paying $100 a month more than she should for her insurance and that her deductible is $4,000 too high.
When Wilson logged on to HealthCare.gov in late December, she needed coverage right away. Her old insurance was ending, and she was to have gallbladder surgery in January. But the Web site would not calculate the federal subsidy to which she knew she was entitled. Terrified to go without coverage, Wilson phoned a federal call center and took the advice she was given: Pay the full price now and appeal later.
Now she is stuck.
"I hope," she said, "they really work on getting this fixed."
The Obama administration has not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working. In recent weeks, legal advocates have been pressing administration officials, pointing out that rules for the online marketplace, created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, guarantee due-process rights to timely hearings for Americans who think they have been improperly denied insurance or subsidies.
But at the moment, "there is no indication that infrastructure . . . necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings has even been created, let alone become operational," attorneys at the National Health Law Program said in a late-December letter to leaders of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees HealthCare.gov. The attorneys, who have been trying to exert leverage quietly behind the scenes, did not provide the letter to The Post but confirmed that they had sent it.
That 22,000 number of mistakes and errors by the website is almost certainly going to grow. People are slow to catch on to the mistakes this turkey of a website has made and there will no doubt be more consumers who realize they are paying for a policy they didn't purchase, or are paying more than they were told.
Note also the failure of the administration to tell people that their reviews can't be undertaken because the website is not operational - despite the law saying that the review process must be in place. Bad news about the website is treated like nuclear secrets and are never publicized unless caught in the act, as the Post has done here.
What else isn't working yet?
Three knowledgeable individuals, speaking on the condition of anonymity about internal discussions, said it is unclear when the appeals process will become available. So far, it is not among the top priorities for completing parts of the federal insurance exchange's computer system that still do not work. Those include an electronic payment system for insurers, the computerized exchange of enrollment information with state Medicaid programs, and the ability to adjust people's coverage to accommodate new babies and other major changes in life circumstance.
The exchange is supposed to allow consumers who want to file appeals to do so by computer, phone or mail. But only mail is available. The roughly 22,000 people who have appealed to date have filled out a seven-page form and mailed it to a federal contractor's office in Kentucky, where the forms are scanned and then transferred to a computer system at CMS. For now, that is where the process stops. The part of the computer system that would allow agency workers to read and handle appeals has not been built, according to individuals familiar with the situation.
And the nightmare continues.