15,000 Obamacare Enrollments Disappeared; Payment Still an Issue

Healthcare.govHealthcare.gov may now working
better-ish, in that users aren’t regularly
hitting a wall
or pulling up
code salad
, but the Obama administration still seems to have a
low threshold for invoking the word “fixed.” According to the
Department of Health and Human Services, information that went in
the front end, from people applying for health coverage, didn’t
necessarily make it to the companies who are supposed to provide
that coverage. Although that’s getting better. Of course.

Says an
HHS announcement
conveniently released on Saturday:

As the technical improvements to HealthCare.gov continue making
a difference to consumers using the website, our attention remains
on addressing issues with the more “back end” parts of the system,
including the creation and accuracy of 834 transaction forms. 
These transaction forms are processed by health plans when
consumers choose a product in the Marketplace, and our priority is
working to make sure that every 834 form – past and present – is
accurate, and that consumers are able to successfully enroll in the
coverage of their choice. …

Our analysis indicates that between October 1st and
December 5th, the number of consumers for whom 834s were
not produced was fewer than 15,000.  But as the graph shows,
since the beginning of December, missing 834s as a percentage of
total enrollments has been close to zero.  These significant
improvements are due to the technical fixes put in place by the end
of November.

So, a fair number of people who diligently banged on the system
to get their Obamacare plans were shouting into the void, never to
be heard.

Glad to hear that their efforts in self-sacrifice won’t be
demanded on an ongoing basis.

Unfortunately, another thing that’s not making it through the
system is money. People may be “enrolling” in coverage, but that
doesn’t mean they’ve closed the deal by paying premiums for what
they’ll receive. Charles Ornstein of ProPublica quotes industry
executives saying that only
five to 15 percent of those who have made it through the sign-up
process have actually paid a bill and truly enrolled

[A]mid the rush to enroll as many people as possible by the

Dec. 23 deadline
, there’s a huge caveat that isn’t getting much
public attention: In order for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1,
enrollees must pay their first month’s premium on time. (The
deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer.)

That’s slow going, according to consultants and some insurers,
raising the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than
the figures HHS is releasing.

“There is also a lot of worrying going on over people making
payments,” industry consultant Robert Laszewski wrote in an email.
“One client reports only 15% have paid so far. It is still too
early to know for sure what this means but we should expect some
enrollment slippage come the payment due date.”

Another consultant Kip Piper, agreed. “So far I’m hearing from
health plans that around 5% and 10% of consumers who have made it
through the data transfer gauntlet have paid first month’s premium
and therefore truly enrolled,” he wrote me.

Which may explain why the
feds are leaning on insurers to provide coverage even to those who
haven’t cut a check

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/15000-obamacare-enrollments-disappeared

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