Insurers: The back end of Healthcare.gov still isn’t working

posted at 2:41 pm on December 2, 2013 by Allahpundit

A perfect follow-up to the “are these people really enrolled or aren’t they?” post earlier. The White House is working on two fixes right now: One is the website, of course, and the other is its political problem with Democratic incumbents. They want people signing up this month but they also want things to be as stress-free for skittish Dems as possible — and they’re willing to trade a little on the former to shore up the latter. That’s why they’re nudging lefty groups not to do any big enrollment campaigns in December even though that would help the White House get closer to its enrollment target. If liberals go all out to get people to log on and the site crashes again, O might lose the Pryors and Landrieus in Congress irretrievably. Even slow, below-target enrollment is okay to him if it gives Democrats a few months’ breather from any new hair-tearing embarrassments.

A question per the Times, though: What if the back end of the site, where application data and subsidy reimbursements are transmitted to insurers, still doesn’t work? Answer: Lots of stress in January. Lots.

While insurers will start covering people who pay their share of the premium, many insurers worry the government will be late on the payments they were expecting in mid-January for the first people covered.

“We want to be paid,” said one executive, speaking frankly on the condition of anonymity. “If we want to pay claims, we need to get paid.”

Insurers said they had received calls from consumers requesting insurance cards because they thought they had enrolled in a health plan through the federal website, but the insurers said they had not been notified.

“Somehow people are getting lost in the process,” the insurance executive said. “If they go to a doctor or a hospital and we have no record of them, that will be very upsetting to consumers.”

That’s not the extent of it. Insurers are still receiving duplicate applications in some cases and in others the applicants themselves are receiving bad info on whether they’re entitled to a subsidy, a potentially catastrophic problem for O-Care in that it risks making rate shock even worse. Kaiser Health News describes one woman who somehow managed to log onto Healthcare.gov in October only to be told that she was ineligible for subsidies. According to Kaiser’s own calculations, though, based on her income she should be entitled to $292 a month or nearly $3,600 a year, an enormous difference to a middle-class family. Even worse, her husband has a serious illness so she’s desperate to have her coverage and subsidy in place on January 1. And yet, despite having mailed a written appeal to HHS in early November, she’s heard nothing. But it could be worse: Imagine being one of the people referenced in the NYT excerpt above who think they’ve successfully enrolled because the front end of the site is telling them they’re done — while the back end of the site has no record of them. Those people will start making doctor appointments for January in the expectation that they’re covered. Who wants to man the phones in Mark Pryor’s or Mary Landrieu’s office when people start calling to say they showed up at the doctor’s office only to be told by the receptionist that their insurer has no record of them?

All of this is only going to make the “if you like your plan” fallout worse, since of course some significant portion of people who are desperate to sign up right now are those who received cancellation notices over the past few months. Can the new and allegedly improved Healthcare.gov process them over the next three weeks so that they have no lapse in coverage? Kaiser wonders:

“The challenge ahead is you have a lot of people who need to get into the system,” said Sarah Lueck, an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank that focuses on issues related to low- and moderate-income people…

Prompt enrollment is urgent for people in several circumstances. Some have no coverage, either because they haven’t been able to afford it or, like Momi, because they have pre-existing medical issues that led insurers to reject them in the past. Some have insurance that is going to expire. That group includes people whose health plans have been canceled and those in a high-risk pool that is closing. For people with serious medical issues, such as cancer patients in the middle of treatment, the loss of coverage could be medically and financially devastating.

So here’s the outlook for the next eight weeks. Even with the White House urging progressive nonprofits not to drum up extra interest in enrollment before December 23rd in order to keep site traffic manageable, traffic is still bound to soar. The site may well crash, right in the home stretch before the December 23rd deadline. Once December 23rd arrives, insurers will have just eight days to somehow process the last-minute crush of applications without error, even though some unknown portion of them will likely be riddled with data problems from Healthcare.gov. If/when the applications are processed, people will start discovering next month after they’ve made appointments that their insurer has never heard of them. They’ll also find out that that the relatively low-premium ObamaCare “bronze” plan they signed up for happens to come with a deductible that’s stratospherically high and a provider network that’s much smaller than they’d hoped for. And on top of all that, it’s an open question whether the risk pools in the exchanges will be as young and healthy as insurers need them to be or whether they’ll end up too old or sick to be sustainable. In other words — mass chaos. Like I say, this is merely the next eight weeks. How long will Democrats tough it out?

I wonder if we’ll reach the point where HHS starts politely encouraging enrollees to phone their insurer after they’ve ostensibly enrolled on Healthcare.gov and, er, make sure that the company has a record of them. That’d be humiliating, but less humiliating than having those people discover that next month. That’s really all this is for the White House at this point — a process of balancing time against lesser or greater humiliations. They spent the last six weeks focusing on the front end of the site, even though they knew the risk of catastrophe if the back end wasn’t fixed, because it was more important to show the public that improvements were being made. If they’d fixed the back end while consumers languished in 404 hell, it might have chased congressional Dems away. Now they’re going to try to fix the back end over the next month or two knowing that insurers have bought into this scheme to the point where they have no choice but to be patient. This is triage not just in the technological sense but in the political sense. How much more blood can Democrats lose before they pull the plug? Exit quotation from Obama, the thinking-man’s answer to the notoriously “incurious” George Bush: “We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to.”


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libfreeordie said the vast majority of America either loves ObamaCare or hates ObamaCare because there’s just not enough ObamaCare.

She had a link too, but typed it with an invisible font.

Chuck Schick on December 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Potemkin cybervillage.

Kataklysmic on December 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Epic fail

Own it dems

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

The back end of Healthcare.gov is not going to work without substantial infrastructure improvements. Obamacare mandates the Star Trek missions before interstellar travel was invented: The existing data management schemes simply are not physically able to accommodate Obamacare demands. And they won’t be. Ever.

Jazz on December 2, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Why aren’t the gop helping instead of sitting on the sidelines?
-libs

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

ObamaCare “bronze” plan they signed up for happens to come with a deductible that’s stratospherically high and a provider network that’s much smaller than they’d hoped for.

If I recall correctly, the only two Dr.s listed in the network are Welby and Gannon…

hillsoftx on December 2, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Dear Congressional Dems,

In the event of a catastrophic event your seat may be used as a flotation device. Please identify the nearest exit, which may be behind you. So sit back, buckle up, and know that it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 2:57 PM

“There are NO American tanks here” — Baghdad Bob

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 2:59 PM

obamagoebbels…play it, over and over and over again.

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

+1 HN

Heh :)

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Whenever leftists propagandize you about obama’care’, hum this at them.

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

It’s hard to imagine a more embarrassing showing of incompetence than that exit quote. Zeus Almighty, that’s bad. I’d be embarrassed if I’d voted for him a short year ago and now heard that…especially if my insurance was in shambles.

dgarone on December 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

So the back end is constipated and they keep trying to shove more into the front end, the result will not be pretty. Own it Dems.

major dad on December 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Throw this baby out with the obama’care’ water.

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

“We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to.”

O_o

And to think the GOP thinks it’s not a good idea to attack this man…

Seven Percent Solution on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

This thing needed to launch perfect as it was designed as a half step. Sort of like a rocket making it off the launch pad but puttering out halfway up its assent. Then the Dems would say “ah, see, this wouldn’t have happened if we did it the way we REALLY wanted!”

Instead it blew up on the launch pad. They can’t say (though they will try) that what they really wanted to do would work because the half measure failed, badly.

Gatsu on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Circling the drain.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

“Somehow people are getting lost in the process,”

Utopia!

Electrongod on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I love analogies.

Here’s one you’ll enjoy:

What the people were promised for the ObamaCare rollout = .45 Thompsons

What actually happened: The man with the beret.

BobMbx on December 2, 2013 at 3:05 PM

“We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to.”

The Smartest Man Ever can also chatter this masterful prose in Austrian if you like.

Bishop on December 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

The true horror? Eventually they will work the bugs out… and we’ll be stuck with it for ever and ever.

WitchDoctor on December 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Barry intended to pin this on those eeeevil health insurance companies. And the GOP. The thrill is gone, Mr. President.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Who wants to man the phones in Mark Pryor’s or Mary Landrieu’s office when people start calling to say they showed up at the doctor’s office only to be told by the receptionist that their insurer has no record of them?.

Only the previously uninsured, in my opinion, will go all the way to the doctor’s office to find out they have no confirmed coverage. Everyone else will know to bring proof of insurance with them. Proof of insurance should be sent out with confirmation of the first premium payment.

Me thinks we should be keeping tabs on the insurance companies to see when all these payment receipts/proof of insurance cards start getting mailed out.

I’d recommend getting real comfy first, it looks like it’s going to be a long wait.

parke on December 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM

“I got re-elected in part because people did think I was trustworthy and they knew I was working on their behalf,” Obama said in the network’s exclusive.

That was before they found out “if you…bla, bla” were big fat lies about their insurance, doctors and hospitals…and 2014 will bring dead people, under- and un-employed, all due to the Liar in Chief.

“Obviously my most recent concern has been that my website’s not working,” Obama said. “We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to. But my priority now has been to just make sure that it works.”

Heh, his website :) And, he blames all other the never-developed mental/physical teenager.

I won’t link, but in the CNN link from AP he looks like a stern child of Lenin/Mussolini sex.

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Circling the drain.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

The leftist latrine is more like it. The rats are suffocating from his chit.

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Democrats just need to hang on until Republican leadership tears apart the party pushing through comprehensive immigration reform while simultaneously reinvigorating the Democrat base before the midterms.

Wigglesworth on December 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Why are the trolls so shy today? Haven’t heard a peep out of ‘em.

Maybe they’re sleeping in till 4:00 p.m. today.

MisterElephant on December 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Exit quotation from Obama, the thinking-man’s answer to the notoriously “incurious” George Bush: “We’re evaluating why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to work the way it needed to.”

What a completely lame excuse.

What absolutely wretched grammar. (I still want to see those transcripts).

INC on December 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM

If I recall correctly, the only two Dr.s listed in the network are Welby and Gannon…

You omitted Dr Kevorkian

txdoc on December 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM

“If they go to a doctor or a hospital and we have no record of them, that will be very upsetting to consumers.”

Upsetting is a tame word to use there. How about livid to the point of going postal.

BacaDog on December 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Somehow people are getting lost in the process,” the insurance executive said.

Somehow, huh. Just somehow.

Wassup Boss, somehow my project, like, isn’t working. Whatever. Later. Word.

Tsar of Earth on December 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM

The GOP needs to put this in terms people can relate to. If you had to book a plane ticket and used Travelosity, how upset would you be if you went to the airport kiosk and found out that no reservation was booked? You could use your smartphone to see if your credit card was credited, which would show it being paid. Then you would have to wait in line to get to the desk only to find out that the plane was booked. Who would you blame? Travelosity or the airline?
This is what they need to keep people aware of, knowing the tactics of this Administration. They will blame the insurance companies for this, not themselves even if they have the premiums.

djaymick on December 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Why aren’t the gop helping instead of sitting on the sidelines?
-libs

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

I first have to eat through this mountain of popcorn before I can even get to the field.

Tsar of Earth on December 2, 2013 at 3:28 PM

I was bored earlier, so I went on the site to see what options I’ll have if/when my individual policy is dropped. They’re insane. I can either pay a lot more a month to have something close to my current deductible, or pay more per month to have something with a sky-high deductible.

The problems with this law go far beyond the site, and we haven’t yet seen the stuff hit the fan yet. Dems are fooling themselves if they think they’re convincing people they are getting a better deal.

changer1701 on December 2, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Lol tsar :)

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Hey Democrats! That light at the end of the tunnel in an oncoming train! Karma’s a b*tch!

Happy holidays!

myiq2xu on December 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Somehow people are getting lost in the process,” the insurance executive said.

Somehow, Bubba ended up having sex with Lewinsky

Two of the worlds’ greatest mysteries, unsolvable.

BobMbx on December 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Why aren’t the gop helping instead of sitting on the sidelines?

I won.” – Barack Obama

myiq2xu on December 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Somehow, Bubba ended up having sex with Lewinsky

The Big Dawg screwed an intern. Obama screwed the whole country.

myiq2xu on December 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Now they’re going to try to fix the back end over the next month or two knowing that insurers have bought into this scheme to the point where they have no choice but to be patient.

Oh, the irony of this statement. Now I’m totally confused, is it the insurers that are getting screwed or the patient?

Rovin on December 2, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Ding ding ding myiq2xu

cmsinaz on December 2, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Circling the drain.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Indeed.

The old Democrat logo was a “kicking ass”.

The new Democrat logo is “cicling the drain”.

ITguy on December 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Potemkin Glitchsite.

VorDaj on December 2, 2013 at 4:03 PM

There is no back end. Yet.

dogsoldier on December 2, 2013 at 4:32 PM

You know what’s coming? A violent action by a person with a critically ill spouse/child who loses their insurance and can’t regain new one and now can’t get medical treatment when it is desperately needed.

kurtzz3 on December 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Who wants to man the phones in Mark Pryor’s or Mary Landrieu’s office when people start calling to say they showed up at the doctor’s office only to be told by the receptionist that their insurer has no record of them?

I don’t care. I only hope that James O’Keefe is hiding in Landrieu’s phone closet again. :0

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 4:42 PM

There is no back end. Yet.

dogsoldier on December 2, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Unlike Mooch. Our First “whatever the hell that is” is all back end.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

You know what’s coming? A violent action by a person with a critically ill spouse/child who loses their insurance and can’t regain new one and now can’t get medical treatment when it is desperately needed.

kurtzz3 on December 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Wasn’t that a Denzel Washington movie? I’m not sure of the actor except the plot was as above. He took a hospital hostage.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Nudging lefty groups not to overload the system, via the Today Show

digitsiam on December 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

we need to start urging people to try to use the site (those that would have a need to) so they can see now how badly they will get screwed.
get the screwing embedded into their psyche now and keep reminding them of it.
make sure the rage is white hot come 2014 elections.

dmacleo on December 2, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Preparation H ain’t gonna be enough for all the problems on the back end. Rectal surgery might not work either.

ardenenoch on December 2, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Even IF or when they get these glitches fixed. Many people are or will be in shock when they see the rates and out of pockets etc. Sure, there will be the few that are all happy and the media will gladly tout them. But when reality slaps LIV’s there’s no amount of spinning they can do. Not to mention that it hasn’t even hit employer based plans yet.

Minnfidel on December 2, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Even slow, below-target enrollment is okay to him if it gives Democrats a few months’ breather from any new hair-tearing embarrassments.

I actually hope this little “fix” of Obama’s works. That is, I hope Obama succeeds in lulling restive Dems into complacency for a few months– as he thinks he’s done with employers and their employees using a similar strategy of delay (delaying the employer mandate). And just as the latter is timed to start producing those employer “you’re on your own” letters to employees in October just before the elections, perhaps Dem candidates will assume that everything is going just fine until… it’s too late to distance themselves from the obvious Obamacare fiasco just before the elections.

de rigueur on December 2, 2013 at 7:43 PM

You know what’s coming? A violent action by a person with a critically ill spouse/child who loses their insurance and can’t regain new one and now can’t get medical treatment when it is desperately needed.

kurtzz3 on December 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Wasn’t that a Denzel Washington movie? I’m not sure of the actor except the plot was as above. He took a hospital hostage.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Yes, but the movies made in this vein made health insurers the evil villains.

It’ll be a cold day in H when the Hollywood proggies make a movie where the piece of crap Obamacare is the bad guy.

slickwillie2001 on December 2, 2013 at 8:28 PM