Consumers who attempted to enroll in health insurance through the ObamaCare web portal but had errors introduced into their applications cannot get them fixed, the Washington Post reports this morning. More than 22,000 people can’t get their enrollments properly completed, because HHS still hasn’t built that part of the system — and many of these won’t get insured for the near term because of it, or are paying too much for the coverage the system assigned to them:
“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 deadline for April 1 enrollment — the date by which all Americans must be covered — is rapidly approaching. Traditionally, it takes about six weeks to enroll, but the Obama administration has pushed insurers into a much narrower processing time. Even if it could wait as long as mid-March, we’re only five or six weeks away from that date. How close is this system from coming on line?
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.
Don’t forget that we’re still waiting for the back-end payment systems to come on line, too. Earlier this month, HHS finally fired CGI Federal and hired a new contractor, Accenture. That means that Accenture has to come up to speed on all of the broken and missing parts of Healthcare.gov before they can proceed in fixing it. They’re getting $90 million to do so, but even all that money won’t speed the process up appreciably.
Wilson had to have surgery to remove a gangrenous gallbladder, and stayed in the hospital five days. She tried calling the appeals team, only to be told that the mistakes made by the system have no way of getting corrected within that system. “These little kinks should have been worked out prior to this thing being launched,” she told the Post’s Amy Goldstein.
Perhaps HHS should have skipped the whole launch until it had a whole system. We’ve seen a lot more than “little kinks” in ObamaCare.