The back end of Obamacare is not winning friends and influencing enrollees — and it may not be translating enrollment to coverage, either. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel was asked on Fox News Sunday about the technical issues plaguing the website, and he compared problems consumers are facing to the glitches for Medicare Part D under President George W. Bush, and iPhones that need updating.
“Look, that’s an important thing. Everyone is trying to work together to solve the problem,” Emanuel said, “I know when I got my iPhone, there were lots of glitches. They sent updates for that. This happens with large scale enrollment of millions of people. But I think there’s a diligent effort now on everyone’s part to reduce the chance of people being left off.”
Emanuel served as a special advisor for health policy to the White House Office of Management and Budget director from 2009 to 2011. As a previous member of President Obama’s administration, he he did not veer from the stance that things will be fixed.
The “back-end” of healthcare.gov is the portion that sends a consumer’s information to the insurance company. Incomplete or incorrect information is resulting in people believing they have signed up for insurance when their information has never been processed by the insurer.
Former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a different stance on Morning Joe on MSNBC, December 2. Gibbs said that looking back, bringing in people from the private sector, who are experts in building websites, should have been done sooner. For those looking to the current White House administration for answers on this issue are told to look to other agencies for information.
At the White House press conference on December 5, a reporter asked for more transparency, saying that, “CMS in these daily calls is still very opaque,” and that CMS, or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was not providing error rates or other specific data. Instead, CMS says “we’ll get to that eventually.”
After going back and forth about the back-end of the website, Press Secretary Jay Carney responded that, “Fixing it is a hugely important issue. When you talk about finding out specific percentages, it’s not — these are bugs that affect individual aspects. So to collect data on it is not necessarily as simple as what’s the error rate for this broad array of or series of small problems that may have affected 834 forms.”
According to Bloomberg, on December 6 in a conference call with reporters, Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for CMS said there were no “precise numbers” on the error rate for enrollment forms.
America’s Health Insurance Plans has been saying since late November that all of HealthCare.gov needs to be functioning in order for people to enroll. In a press release, the health industry trade organization said that, ”Until the enrollment process is working from end-to-end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage. In addition to fixing the technical problems with healthcare.gov, the significant ‘back-end’ issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on January 1, 2014.”