News: Wall Street Journal: "Pricing Glitch Afflicts Rollout of Online Health Exchanges"

September 20, 2013

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DELAY

Months Behind Schedule, Testing Reveals Crucial Part of Health
Law’s Exchanges Not Yet Ready for October 1

Less than 24 hours after the Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen attempted to defend the implementation of Obamacare, The Wall Street Journal reports, “the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.” Despite repeated claims from the law’s supporters that everything is “on track” and “working the way it’s supposed to,” the truth is that, “Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts.” One senior health executive commented, "Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they're seeing and the potential of them to stick around." Although missed deadlines, delays, and malfunctions have been the norm for the health law’s implementation, the administration continues to plow forward, unilaterally rewriting the law as it goes in a desperate attempt to get something across the finish line. Each day that passes it becomes more clear that this law is not ready for prime-time.

September 19,2013

Pricing Glitch Afflicts Rollout of Online Health Exchanges

Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government's software can't reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.

Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly, according to the people, to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumers.

A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the "exchanges" is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation.

If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction of them are expected to sign up in the next year.

The remaining 14 states are running separate marketplaces with their own software. One of those states, Oregon, has already announced that it would delay some features to fix software bugs, though consumers will be able to enroll offline.

Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts.

"There's a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly," said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. "Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they're seeing and the potential of them to stick around." …

Read the complete story here.

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