ObamaCare web brokers stuck waiting on standby thanks to Healthcare.gov's failures

The federal agency in charge of the exchanges signed agreements this summer with several e-brokers to sell health plans in the 36 states where the feds are running the new individual marketplaces. But the online brokers, eager to tap a new market of people who’ll qualify for federal subsidies, learned shortly before the Oct. 1 launch that they wouldn’t be able to offer exchange plans right away.

The brokers say the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services didn’t act fast enough to let them integrate their websites with the IT systems supporting the federal insurance marketplaces. They hope to get everything linked up with the feds in the coming weeks.

“I think it just comes down to they weren’t ready,” said Michael Mahoney, vice president of consumer marketing for Web broker GoHealth. “Like anybody else, when they realized they weren’t going to be ready with a variety of things, they have to look at circumstances and prioritize.”