The Corner

Federal Exchange Duplicating Enrollments, Unenrolling Enrollees

Bob Laszewski, a health-care consultant who’s been writing a lot about Obamacare (he’s a critic) relays a bizarre observation he’s heard from health-insurance companies participating in the federal exchange, which is used in 34 states. 

Based upon my survey of a large number of health plans accounting for substantial market share in the 36 states the federal insurance exchange is operating in, not more than about 5,000 individuals and families signed-up for health insurance in the 36 states run by the Obama administration through Monday.

Here is one example from a carrier–and I have received numerous reports from many other carriers with exactly the same problem. One carrier exec told me that yesterday they got 7 transactions for 1 person – 4 enrollments and 3 cancelations. 

For some reason the system is enrolling, unenrolling, enrolling again, and so forth the same person. This has been going on for a few days for many of the enrollments being sent to the health plans. It has got on to the point that the health plans worry some of these very few enrollments really don’t exist.

The reconciliation system, that reconciles enrollment between the feds and the health plans, is not working and hasn’t even been tested yet.

It’s not clear if the anecdotal reports from a few insurers mean this is a really common problem, or is one that will be happening with just a few one-off enrollments, but it certainly sounds like a serious problem. If in fact it is widespread, it could explain some of the gulf between Laszewski’s estimate of federal enrollments from his informal survey — about 5,000 — and the number that was leaked to the Daily Mail by two HHS officials yesterday, 51,000. It’s not hard to imagine why insurance companies would be keeping quiet about such a massive glitch — they want to sign people up on the exchanges because they want to sell insurance (and especially need the young, healthy marginal customers — more enrollees is definitely better for their risk pool). News that the website is going to enroll you and unenroll you four times isn’t going to attract customers.

Patrick Brennan was a senior communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and is former opinion editor of National Review Online.


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