AP: Insurers discovering they have no record of some ObamaCare enrollees

posted at 4:41 pm on January 9, 2014 by Allahpundit

Is this the first moderately big tremor for O-Care on the news wires this year or did I miss something earlier? It’s been so cold in most of the country, I imagine some significant number of new enrollees decided to put off their first doctor’s appointment, which means few cases so far of people discovering technical snafus that have left them in government/insurer limbo.

But now things are warming up.

Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not. They are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.

The government says the problem is real but under control. Officials say the total number of problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers currently stands at about 13,000. That includes orphan records. More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.

Insurers, however, are less enthusiastic about the pace of the fixes. The companies also are seeing cases in which the government has assigned the same identification number to more than one person, as well as so-called “ghost” files in which the insurer has an enrollment record but the government does not.

But orphaned files — when the insurer has no record of enrollment — are particularly concerning because the companies have no automated way to identify the presumed policyholder. They say they have to manually compare the lists of enrollees the government sends them with their own records because the government never built an automated system that would do the work much faster.

The key word in the boldfaced bit above is “currently.” The fact that the industry’s still “deal[ing] with the flood of new customers who signed up in December” means there’s no way to really know just how many “orphaned files” — or ghost files, or files with the same ID number — there’ll be. That’s what Obama and Sebelius bought for themselves when they started moving deadlines deeper into December to help boost the monthly sign-up numbers for PR purposes. The less time insurers had last month to process new applications, the more uncertainty there’d be this month as they raced to catch up. Now they’ve got thousands of phantom sign-ups to chase down while claims have already begun to trickle in. All of the deadline-shifting was premised on the idea that Healthcare.gov was more or less fixed, which meant the industry would be able to handle applications expeditiously. Not so. In his last blog post of 2013, Bob Laszewski wrote on December 29th that “very serious back-end issues” are still plaguing the site. He’s the guy who warned from the beginning, in fact, that if HHS fixed the front end to make mass enrollment possible without first fixing the back end to make sure that insurers would get accurate enrollment information, we’d end up with a giant clusterfark of insurers trying to correct glitchy applications at the same time they’re busy fielding claims from new enrollees. This AP story is the first rumblings of that problem. (Laszewski himself is quoted in it, predicting that it’ll become a bigger one as the month wears on.)

But that’s not the only issue. Orphaned files might be the most Kafkaesque logistical headache facing the industry but there are surely more new enrollees who haven’t paid their first month’s premium yet than there are “orphans.” I haven’t seen recent data on that but several big names, including Blue Cross Blue Shield in Texas and Illinois, announced today that they’re extending the deadline for payment from January 10th all the way to January 30th. That can only mean, I take it, that the rate of nonpayment in some plans is significant enough that insurers feel they have no choice but to extend the grace period. The alternative is to void coverage, which is something they’re loath to do to a big bunch of new customers who might seek coverage elsewhere if they’re tossed. As it is, some new enrollees this month will end up incurring expensive new treatments and then cut a check on January 30th to have their new insurer cover them retroactively. That gives you an inkling of how chaotic things must be right now within the industry.


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I haven’t seen recent data on that but several big names, including Blue Cross Blue Shield in Texas and Illinois, announced today that they’re extending the deadline for payment from January 10th all the way to January 30th. That can only mean, I take it, that the rate of nonpayment in some plans is significant enough that insurers feel they have no choice but to extend the grace period. The alternative is to void coverage, which is something they’re loath to do to a big bunch of new customers who might seek coverage elsewhere if they’re tossed. As it is, some new enrollees this month will end up incurring expensive new treatments and then cut a check on January 30th to have their new insurer cover them retroactively. That gives you an inkling of how chaotic things must be right now within the industry.

And what happens if/when a bunch of these customers haven’t paid by January 30th? Are the insurers gonna be forced to extend these deadlines indefinitely? And how does that impact the growing likelihood of a massive taxpayer-funded bailout?

Doughboy on January 9, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Bob Laszewski wrote on December 29th that “very serious back-end issues” are still plaguing the site.

Seems like Reggie and Barry could solve that one, at least.

hillsoftx on January 9, 2014 at 4:47 PM

As it is, some new enrollees this month will end up incurring expensive new treatments and then cut a check on January 30th to have their new insurer cover them retroactively. That gives you an inkling of how chaotic things must be right now within the industry.

And others will be “incurring expensive new treatments and then…” NOT “cut a check on January 30th…”

(shakes head)

Who could’ve seen THAT coming?

/s

cs89 on January 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Obama, Sebelius, Pelosi, Reid…these are not capable, wise nor trustworthy people. They’re careerists in shuffling papers and acting important, who would have a hard time in any area of commerce unless it was in government. “Organizing” is another word for shuffling-the-papers-around and “lookin’ gooood” while doin’ it.

Lourdes on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Everyone in the federal government connected with ObamaCare has set a new low for complete incompetency. It’s hard to believe these people can find their way from a building door to their office.

All the adjectives are pretty much gone to describe the total disastrous mess ObamaCare is, and the year is barely begun.

People will suffer and some will die, but Obama and the Dems don’t care. They want money and power.

I can only hope that this will be such an unmitigated horror story that a vast majority of Americans will want the federal government completely out of health care forever.

INC on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

And what happens if/when a bunch of these customers haven’t paid by January 30th? Are the insurers gonna be forced to extend these deadlines indefinitely? And how does that impact the growing likelihood of a massive taxpayer-funded bailout?

Doughboy on January 9, 2014 at 4:46 PM

How about the chaos for determining deductible start dates? How about revenue forecasts/budget docs for ins co.s now putting Feb income on January’s books? Epicclusterboonfarkdoggle

hillsoftx on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

And Obama, Sebelius, Reid, Pelosi…they’d be fired and would have been fired long ago had they worked in any for-profit environment, if not in any area OTHER THAN government.

Government jobs seem to provide cover for people who are otherwise not employable. Not ALL public employees, granted, but these careerists in government (“community organizers”) really are all about self-importance and lack most substance and productivity that everyone else relies on and considers to be useful as to employees.

Sebelius is a prime example of this, so is Pelosi, Obama, Reid…I could go on. They’re people who use government jobs to pretty well avoid being productive but to pad their own sense of self-importance. Sebelius’ appearance before Congress was mind-blowing in her exceptional display of personality-disordered behavior.

Lourdes on January 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM

600 million.
Where did the money go?
Who’s hands did it flow into and where is it now? What politics will it fuel in the near future?
Why is this not an important question?

Mimzey on January 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Julie Bataille, communications director for the federal health care rollout, disputes the industry’s view.

“We have fixed the issues that we knew were a problem, and we are now seeing nearly zero errors in the work moving forward,” she said.

She makes Baghdad Bob look like a no-nonsense realist.

INC on January 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Verrry messy. Ghost and orphaned records are a database manager’s worst nightmare… next to total file corruption. And the government is still adding to the database?

Face it… ObamaCare is f*@&#d!

Turtle317 on January 9, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Everyone in the federal government connected with ObamaCare has set a new low for complete incompetency. It’s hard to believe these people can find their way from a building door to their office.

All the adjectives are pretty much gone to describe the total disastrous mess ObamaCare is, and the year is barely begun.
(…)

INC on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Agreed. And that’s why, to the normal, responsible individual looking in on this, Obamacare appears to be intentionally dysfunctional: no one could or would ever go to such extremes to “create” such a huge disaster as this, not by intention.

On the other hand, that is lending too much credit to Obama, Sebelius, Pelosi, et al to assume they actually knew what they were doing…

Lourdes on January 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

In a sane world no one would ever vote democrat again, alas…

Murphy9 on January 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM

“No problem! just give them another 30-day extension, or a waiver, or something!”

– Obama, from the par 4, 14th Hole.

Ward Cleaver on January 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Lourdes on January 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

I really think they’re incompetent, not to mention unintelligent. If they had any brains at all, they would have worked hard to make the transition to ObamaCare seamless in order to be able to ease people into trusting them with even more control. As it is, this has been a bucket-of-cold-water-in-the-face shock to those who weren’t paying attention or to many who were deceived.

INC on January 9, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Hey, insurers, ain’t partnering with Uncle Sam lots of fun?

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Laszewski and other insurer representatives say orphaned files exist largely because the government allowed people to sign up without first guaranteeing the technology would work.

Insurers say it usually takes a few days for a customer’s file to reach them after they enroll through the exchange. People who still do not receive their insurance cards and introductory packet after that should call insurers first for help.

If the insurer has no record of them, they must contact the government for help.

Ha! Cue Ronald Reagan:

The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

ObamaCare employees are not even there to help! Have they ever gotten past the point where the website was sending people to a phone number that then sent them back to the site?

INC on January 9, 2014 at 5:06 PM

None of this information should come as a surprise. The EpicClusterFarkNado is circling the drain – but far too many are still believing the hope and change lies that this actually was intended to address the challenges of our healthcare industry.

I have little sympathy for the insurers who leaped to join the exchanges with visions of millions of formerly uninsured coming to them as new customers – because they trusted a feckless, petulant, mendacious Administration which was only focused on the expansion of their power and seizing 1/6th of the national economy in the name of their progressive-fascist agenda.

If you want to lie with a flea infested dog, don’t be surprised if you wind up with fleas yourself…or when the dog blames those fleas on you.

And Obama, Sebelius, Reid, Pelosi…they’d be fired and would have been fired long ago had they worked in any for-profit environment, if not in any area OTHER THAN government.

Actually, Lourdes, in the private sector, not only would they have been fired, but they would be prosecuted for criminal fraud and gross malfeasance – just as Ken Lay, Kirk Shelton, Walter Forbes, and Bernie Madoff were. What this Administration has done is very little different than those crooks did.

Athos on January 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

AP: Insurers discovering they have no record of some ObamaCare enrollees
==============

Smacks of a,

********** Opaque/Transparent Operation *******************!!
(sarc)

canopfor on January 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

in the private sector, not only would they have been fired, but they would be prosecuted for criminal fraud and gross malfeasance – just as Ken Lay, Kirk Shelton, Walter Forbes, and Bernie Madoff were. What this Administration has done is very little different than those crooks did.

Athos on January 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

You’re right.

canopfor on January 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

How are you? How’s the grandchild doing?

INC on January 9, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The timing of this mess is particularly bad – we are deep in the flu season – there’s already been 19 deaths from the flu here in the DFW area. Actually they are from only two counties out of a dozen in the metroplex.

tru2tx on January 9, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Just so y’all can be ready…I had a colonostopy yesterday using the same employer provided coverage I’ve had for years (United Health Care). It’s pretty much a Cadillac type plan. I was told we were in good shape for another year last November when we enrolled but admit I didn’t read all the fine print.

I was called two days before the procedure and told to bring a $500 check per the new rules (the girl actually mention Obamacare). When I got there it was actually $520. My hunch is if I had scheduled it for before January 1st it would have been $20 like last time.

Like I said. Be ready for a change.

DanMan on January 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

The government says the problem is real but under control. Officials say the total number of problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers currently stands at about 13,000. That includes orphan records. More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.

That’s a 1.3% error. That frickin’ HUGE for a big data entry project like this. This is what you get when you’ve royally screwed up your testing before you went live.

Socratease on January 9, 2014 at 5:29 PM

They say they have to manually compare the lists of enrollees the government sends them with their own records because the government never built an automated system that would do the work much faster.

Well, wouldn’t that actually be a good thing in this case?

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

“Hi, I’m the automated system the government built to replace HAL, and I’m here to help you! I still can’t open the pod bay doors, but I can refuse your request much faster!”

Marcola on January 9, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Obama health care law
59s
—-
Obama administration opposes weekly reports on Obamacare implementation, legislation requiring officials to people if personal data is compromised – @thehill
read more on thehill.com
========================

January 09, 2014, 05:09 pm
White House stops short of veto threats on House healthcare bills

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/healthcare/195008-obama-opposes-weekly-reports-on-obamacare
===================================

https://twitter.com/thehill

canopfor on January 9, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Obama has a waiver and a handout for that problem…

albill on January 9, 2014 at 5:39 PM

you mean its doing exactly what we said it would….failing?
what a shock huh.

dmacleo on January 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM

AP: Insurers discovering they have no record of some ObamaCare enrollees

Predictable. When the front end is broken so badly and everyone knows it, the rush is to fix what’s visible and worry about what’s not visible later — if at all.

There’s no telling how much the back end is broken, and how long it will take to fix it. Most likely, it will never be completely fixed.

In fact, I fully expect lots more to come out about people who think they’ve signed up, and find out too late that the signup went no further than the web page that told them they were done.

Oh, and the obligatory:

Ed –
You mean the websites aren’t working perfectly on day one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight twenty-nine thirty thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three thirty-four thirty-five thirty-six thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine forty forty-one forty-two forty-three forty-four forty-five forty-six forty-seven forty-eight forty-nine fifty fifty-one fifty-two fifty-three fifty-four fifty-five fifty-six fifty-seven fifty-eight fifty-nine sixty sixty-one sixty-two sixty-three sixty-four sixty-five sixty-six sixty-seven sixty-eight sixty-nine seventy seventy-one seventy-two seventy-three seventy-four seventy-five seventy-six seventy-seven seventy-eight seventy-nine eighty eighty-one eighty-two eighty-three eighty-four eighty-five eighty-six eighty-seven eighty-eight eighty-nine ninety ninety-one ninety-two ninety-three ninety-four ninety-five ninety-six ninety-seven ninety-eight ninety-nine one hundred one hundred one
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(Credit to NotCoach for a comment so good I had to steal it)

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 9, 2014 at 5:46 PM

And just think…if it isn’t straightened out, they will have to pay a penalty tax because the government screwed up.

Speaking of screw ups, I have to call the FSA office AGAIN because they can’t figure out to send me two forms. Welcome to a farmer’s hell of trying to work with government interference.

cptacek on January 9, 2014 at 5:53 PM

The insurance companies got in bed with the Obama administration so I have absolutely zero sympathy for the problems they’re facing now. The only people I feel any sympathy for are the people who voted against Obama and through no fault of their own are dealing with this nightmare.

buckichick1 on January 9, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Giddyup!

Mason on January 9, 2014 at 6:23 PM

The docs and hospitals won’t get paid. And the docs, of course, can’t even write the non-payments off on their taxes. So it’s basically free medical care and a win for patients, insurers and the government. For now.

justltl on January 9, 2014 at 6:31 PM

That can only mean, I take it, that the rate of nonpayment in some plans is significant enough that insurers feel they have no choice but to extend the grace period. The alternative is to void coverage, which is something they’re loath to do to a big bunch of new customers who might seek coverage elsewhere if they’re tossed.

Based upon the risk pool composition, voiding coverages would be the smart thing to do. From WarGames… the smartest move is not to play!

dominigan on January 9, 2014 at 6:32 PM

And what happens if/when a bunch of these customers haven’t paid by January 30th? Are the insurers gonna be forced to extend these deadlines indefinitely? And how does that impact the growing likelihood of a massive taxpayer-funded bailout?

Doughboy on January 9, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Well, people who are foolish enough to actually pay their own way will get a letter at the end of this year saying:
“Dear Sir/Madam. Please submit payment for your premium in the amount of $1,453,286.45. Your deductible for the coming year will be $800,000.00. Thank you. And have a nice day.”

justltl on January 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Ah, yes, the left. How sweet this is to see total chaos. They promote chaos, they thrive on it and now they own it. Too bad for them they’re eating it.

HiJack on January 9, 2014 at 6:41 PM

The country has a feevah, and what we need is more cowbell!

HiJack on January 9, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Obama never intended for this to succeed. No shock.

Philly on January 9, 2014 at 6:50 PM

That can only mean, I take it, that the rate of nonpayment in some plans is significant enough that insurers feel they have no choice but to extend the grace period. The alternative is to void coverage, which is something they’re loath to do to a big bunch of new customers who might seek coverage elsewhere if they’re tossed.

Not so much in my state…only BCBS is on the exchange.

Oh, and we didn’t buy into the Medicaid scam…

ladyingray on January 9, 2014 at 6:52 PM

As it is, some new enrollees this month will end up incurring expensive new treatments and then cut a check on January 30th to have their new insurer cover them retroactively. That gives you an inkling of how chaotic things must be right now within the industry.

And others will be “incurring expensive new treatments and then…” NOT “cut a check on January 30th…”

(shakes head)

Who could’ve seen THAT coming?

/s

cs89 on January 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Per medical societies, the insurer is on the hook for the first 30 days. After that, the doctors and hospitals are on their own to try to get paid by the patient, even if they verified coverage, but it turned out later the patient never paid the insurance premiums.

talkingpoints on January 9, 2014 at 7:48 PM

AP: Insurers discovering they have no record of some ObamaCare enrollees

The only other evidence of their existence comes on election day in almost every big city in America, especially in Chicago.

farsighted on January 9, 2014 at 7:51 PM

AP: Insurers discovering they have no record of some ObamaCare enrollees

The only other evidence of their existence comes on election day in almost every big city in America, especially in Chicago.

farsighted on January 9, 2014 at 7:51 PM

…but…but don’t they have a picture ID yet, like Mandela told ‘em to? /sarc
Couldn’t help it, sorry.

DublOh7 on January 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM

600 million.
Where did the money go?
Who’s hands did it flow into and where is it now? What politics will it fuel in the near future?
Why is this not an important question?

Mimzey on January 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM

…thank you!…and I think it’s more money than that!

KOOLAID2 on January 9, 2014 at 10:41 PM

I tried to tell y’all this stupid law wouldn’t work. Nothing that Liberals do ever works. Just look at the war on poverty that’s 50 years old now. The low income people’s income has gone down for 50 years. Liberals are a joke. And now just look at what this scum of the earth lowlife Obama has done in five years. This Idiot claims to be for the middle class but yet their income has consistently gone down. What a disgrace to the middle income LIBERALS are.

tmgrant on January 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM

and then hotair will run out of material to bash the President on…that’s what you’re really afraid of, right?

nonpartisan on November 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.

libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Chris of Rights on January 10, 2014 at 9:03 AM