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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A.M. Links: Government Doesn’t Know How Many Secrets Edward Snowden Will Reveal, John McCain Question’s CIA’s Forthrightness, Peter O’Toole Dead at 81

  • didn't win a raspberry eitherGovernment officials
    claim
    they may never know exactly how many secrets Edward
    Snowden took with him before leaving an NSA facility in Hawaii,
    because the center didn’t have software controls. They’ll just have
    to find out by reading it in the newspapers.
  • John McCain
    suggested
    the CIA hasn’t been open with Congress about Robert
    Levinson, a former FBI analyst gone missing in Iran who it was
    revealed was working an off-book mission in the country for a team
    of CIA analysts. The young senator will learn the CIA’s ways
    eventually.
  • A Colorado high school student who shot two classmates before
    killing himself was
    reportedly
    an outspoken advocate of gun control and other
    left-wing policies, so the media is unlikely to try to use the
    incident to smear his ideological fellow-travelers.
  • Toronto Star city hall beat reporter Daniel Dale is

    suing
    Mayor Rob Ford for libel for calling the reporter a
    pedophile.
  • Israeli soldiers
    shot
    two Lebanese soldiers near the border after seeing
    “suspicious movements.” The IDF believes they were responsible for
    the fatal shooting some hours earlier of an Israeli soldier by a
    Lebanese sniper.
  • Norway’s government won’t
    consider
    Bitcoin money, but will consider it an asset and apply
    the appropriate taxes.
  • Google has
    acquired
    Boston Dynamics, a robotic design company, the tech
    firm confirmed this weekend.
  • Actor Peter O’Toole, who was nominated for eight Academy Awards
    but never won one, a record, died
    aged 81.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/am-links-government-doesnt-know-how-many
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Matt Welch on the Death of Obama’s “Noble Lie”

Back in 2009, to accuse
President Barack Obama of lying about the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act was to crawl onto a pretty lonely branch.
Things have changed since then. His administration has created a
bubble of deception surrounding ObamaCare that will affect millions
of Americans for years to come. Matt Welch says that a lie this
ignoble should stain the credibility of everyone who perpetuated
it.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/matt-welch-on-the-death-of-obamas-noble
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Matt Welch on the Death of Obama's "Noble Lie"

Back in 2009, to accuse
President Barack Obama of lying about the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act was to crawl onto a pretty lonely branch.
Things have changed since then. His administration has created a
bubble of deception surrounding ObamaCare that will affect millions
of Americans for years to come. Matt Welch says that a lie this
ignoble should stain the credibility of everyone who perpetuated
it.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/matt-welch-on-the-death-of-obamas-noble
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Obama Needs Help From Islamic Front For Diplomacy To Succeed in Syria

A recent
op-ed
by Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times, who
advocated for increased U.S. intervention in Syria
back in March
, highlights an uncomfortable reality relating to
the Obama administration’s policy on Syria:

For the Obama administration’s diplomacy to succeed, it now
needs help from an armed group with the unpromising name of the
Islamic Front.

The Islamic front has been the subject of increased attention
recently. Last week, it was reported that the U.S and the U.K. were

suspending their aid to rebels in northern Syria
after members
of the Islamic Front captured bases held by the Free Syrian Army,
the rebel group backed by the U.S.

In the wake of the news that the Islamic Front were expanding
their foothold in northern Syria
stories

emerged
that the Free Syrian Army’s Gen. Salim Idris had fled
Syria. Idris has
denied the reports
, saying that he moved to an office on the
Turkish border.

McManus quotes  Andrew J. Tabler of the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, who characterized the Islamic Front
as “Salafists but not extremists.” However, while the Islamic Front
may not be directly linked to Al Qaeda-linked groups, the BBC
reports
that they are open to working with them.

If, as McManus says, the Obama administration’s diplomatic
efforts in Syria will rely on help from the Islamic Front, it is
another sign that the U.S. should be less involved in the Syrian
conflict given their desire to establish an Islamic state
in a post-Assad Syria. 

Regardless of what policy the Obama administration decides to
pursue, it is unlikely that the Saudis are going to stop sending
lethal military aid to Assad’s opposition, including groups like
the Islamic Front. Over at
The Daily Beast
, Jamie Dettmer has written about the worrying
groups being helped by the Saudis and the number of Saudis who have
traveled to Syria to take part in the conflict. Dettmer also quoted
an unnamed American intelligence official, who said that Saudi
involvement in the Syrian conflict could result in Afghanistan-like
blowback:

The Saudis are in jeopardy of repeating history, says an
American intelligence official who declined to be named for the
article. “There was blowback for the Saudis from jihadists fighting
in Afghanistan in the 1980s and that could happen again.”

As horrific as the situation in Syria is, the reality is that it
remains a bad environment for increased U.S. intervention. McManus
points out that the Obama administration’s most likely policy,
which will reduce the risk of direct U.S. military involvement,
will not end the suffering and the dangers posed by
“jihadist mini-armies” in Syria.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/obama-needs-help-from-islamic-front-for
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Steve Chapman on the Phony Promise of Minimum Wage Hikes

Crumpled dollarIf you offer people something that is too good to
be true, you will always find takers. Ask Bernie Madoff. Or ask
Barack Obama, who recently proposed an increase in the minimum
wage. That’s an idea that suits the natural predilections of many
people enough to distract them from the unsentimental and unwelcome
logic of economics, writes Steve Chapman. The proposal rests on the
assumption that the government can decree the price of a
commodity—in this case, labor—in defiance of the dictates of the
market, without ill effects. But that view requires a heroic
suspension of disbelief.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/steve-chapman-on-the-phony-promise-of-mi
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Brickbat: What Are You Looking At?

A man in Barcelona,
Spain, claims police fined him 90 euros for looking
at a discarded painting
. Public defender Maria Assumpció Vilàs
says cops charged him with rummaging through trash but the painting
had actually been left next to a bin.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/brickbat-what-are-you-looking-at
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New: Why Bankrupt Detroit Should Sell Off its Art Masterpieces

Detroit is
bankrupt, with billions of dollars in obligations it can’t meet.
One of the most controversial proposals is to sell of most or all
of the city’s holdings in The Detroit Institute of Arts, which
houses works by Bruegel, Picasso, Van Gogh and others that are
valued at as much as $866 million.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie says that Motown should unload its
trove, especially if the city wants people to actually see the
stuff.

Building a future around a slogan
like 
Detroit: Come for the Bankruptcy but Stay
for the Bruegel
 is no way to resurrect a city
whose 
population peaked back in
1950….

Selling off Detroit’s enviable art collection thus
represents a truly rare win-win on public policy: The city will get
much-needed cash that might help it reboot itself, and museums in
places that are thriving will be able to add to their offerings.
Nobody in their right mind would think of denying Motown residents
the right to flee the city in search of a brighter future. It
shouldn’t really be any different for works by Rodin, Bernini, or
Whistler.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/15/new-why-bankrupt-detroit-should-sell-off
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Video: Are Democrats Really Pro-Choice? Emily Ekins Explains December Reason-Rupe Poll Results

“Are Democrats Really Pro-Choice? Emily Ekins Explains December
Reason-Rupe Poll Results” is the latest video from ReasonTV. Watch
above or click on the link below for video, full text, supporting
links, downloadable versions, and more Reason TV clips.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/15/video-are-democrats-really-pro-choice-em
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Shikha Dalmia Questions Rand Paul's Plan For Saving Detroit

Rand Paul

Last week, Rand Paul rushed in where Republicans fear to tread:
Detroit. He’s no fool but his idea for saving Detroit by creating
Economic Freedom Zones is simply “yesterday’s fashion in new
accessories,” notes Shikha Dalmia. It won’t work—not because it
doesn’t make sense, but because Washington won’t allow a sensible
version to come into effect.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/15/shikha-dalmia-on-why-rand-paul-is-not-se
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