Thousands of Americans who have asked the federal government to fix errors on their Obamacare applications aren’t likely to get solutions anytime soon, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post.
Some 22,000 Americans have filed appeals over errors made while applying for health coverage on HealthCare.gov, the website for Obamacare’s federal exchange, the newspaper reported. Those errors have included being pushed into the wrong program, receiving incorrect subsidies or insurance payments, and being denied coverage entirely.
But HealthCare.gov’s system won’t allow federal workers to go into enrollment records and make any changes to the applications. Washington Post reporter Amy Goldstein wrote. “The Obama administration has not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working,” the story said, noting that the administration is more focused on other parts of HealthCare.gov that don’t work, such as the payment processing system.
A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which heads up HealthCare.gov, told The Post that the agency is working to implement an appeals system, but didn’t give an estimated completion date. In the meantime, CMS is advising some consumers with enrollment issues to avoid the appeals process by going back to the website and starting over with a new application.
Heritage Foundation health insurance expert Edmund Haislmaier says the latest HealthCare.gov snafu is symptomatic of the administration’s decision to recreate health insurance functions through a new website that offered “front-end” functions without “back-end” support.
“This would be like Amazon opening up a site to shoppers without connecting the logistics of information sharing for shipping, payments, and warehouse supply,” said Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy studies.
Healthcare.gov has been riddled with crashes, slow processing and other issues since the website launched last October. Even the Spanish version of the site, which was months late in its release, was criticized for causing its own set of headaches for Spanish-speaking consumers.
“Unfortunately for patients stuck in this appeal situation, the fact that the government is committed to this path means there’s no immediate fix,” Haislmaier said. “The alternative to this mess would be to go back, scrap the entire law, and replace it with health reforms that are designed to work with the existing, proven information management systems used by insurers, brokers, and others.”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.