The ghosts of Obamacare past are not going away because the administration says that HealthCare.gov is up and running. Instead, people are endeavoring to understand what went wrong, and the repercussions of the technical issues. As many as one-third of the applications submitted so far may have been affected by a glitch.
One of the biggest bugs for the site was causing errors with 834 forms. The form is not a new innovation for Obamacare — it predates the law, and it’s how insurance companies acquire vital information about the people they are covering. If information is missing, such as a birthdate or social security number, the computer on the insurer’s end will not be able to process the data, and coverage will not be issued.
Other common errors include duplicate forms, cancellations, subsidy mistakes, and family member data omitted. The Washington Post says Tara McGuinness, a White House communications adviser, disputes the one-third claim. That data “doesn’t accurately reflect the picture of what’s happening right now,” McGuinness said.
The White House did not provide a number with which to dispute the claim. The White House is equally reluctant to announce the number of forms that fell victim to a specific 834 glitch. This problem arose because there was ”one bug that prevented a Social Security number from being included. That caused the system not to generate an 834,” Julie Bataille told reporters on a conference call Monday.
Bataille is a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Washington Post provided some of her remarks. Bataille gave assurance that this bug was one that had been solved.
The administration knows this issue was responsible for 80 percent of the 834 errors, but they would not tell reporters the actual number behind the 80 percent. In a press briefing covered by Politico, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said that, “The majority of fixes to the 834 forms have been made, including significant ones over the weekend.”
The other issue users of the site are still experiencing is a waiting time. If the website cannot handle the capacity of users, they may be shuffled into a “queue.” An email will notify the individual when they can fully access the site to enroll in coverage.
On Sunday, a Department of Health and Human Services report on the Obamacare website’s functionality was released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It said that the error rate had been driven below 1 percent, and that the website can now handle 50,000 users at one time. It also said that “hundreds” of software fixes had been implemented to enhance user experience.
The White House does not plan on releasing enrollment data until the middle of December. According to Bloomberg, during November 100,000 people signed up for coverage using HealthCare.gov. ABC says it has confirmed this number with someone knowledgable on the matter. If true, it is a vast improvement over October’s federal exchange enrollment data–26,794 — but still far short of the 800,000 goal for the first two months.
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