Most of the East Coast was walloped with snow, ice and frigid temperatures over the past few days, but it was those looking for healthcare coverage through the federal government who were left out in the cold.
Open enrollment officially closed on Sunday night for Americans looking to purchase healthcare coverage through the federal and state ObamaCare exchanges. This open enrollment period has been relatively quiet with no hoopla and little fanfare. That is until Saturday, when glitches began to occur on Healthcare.gov that impeded customers from completing their applications.
The errors prevented applicants from verifying their income which is critical to determine the eligibility and size of any taxpayer subsides. The backend issues were connected with the IRS’ system which can check income
By Saturday evening, the Administration had resolved the issue but not before potentially thousands of customers had been prevented from submitting their applications. Those customers were asked to come back later or try their luck contacting call centers, which had been beefed up with 14,000 workers in anticipation of a last-minute rush.
As a result, the Administration granted an extension to anyone who experienced difficulties submitting their applications.
To-date, the Administration touts some 10 million signups, which we know comes with a big asterisk as we wait to see how many people will follow-through on their applications and pay their first month’s premiums. Then there will be those who lose coverage if they cannot provide evidence of income and immigration eligibility. HHS officials said 7.75 million have signed up on the federal exchange through Feb. 6, and other experts think an additional 2.6 million have enrolled in the 14 states with their own exchanges.
USA Today reports:
"We resolved the systems issues that prevented some consumers from submitting their applications," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement Saturday night. "Consumers who were impacted should log in to their Marketplace account now and click on their 2015 application to finish it and complete their enrollment for health coverage."
Federal and state officials had said they were prepared for a last-minute surge in Affordable Care Act sign-ups. But some consumers were unable to submit their applications because of "intermittent issues" with the external income verification sources used by HealthCare.gov, Hill said Saturday afternoon.
"Right now we're focused on the next few days, on being there for our consumers … to help them select the best plans for their families," Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said last Wednesday. "Interest in signing up for coverage in the final week of open enrollment is beginning to increase and we're seeing a really nice ramp."
As of Saturday afternoon, HHS was suggesting that those who hadn't submitted an application should come back later. IRS and HealthCare.gov teams were working to determine the root cause of the verification problems and to solve it.
Still, improvements in the website are an ancillary issue. ObamaCare as a system is still fundamentally flawed. That every American must demonstrate healthcare coverage because of the individual mandate and that employers must provide healthcare coverage despite the costs to each worker, are burdens hoisted on all of our shoulders because of the un-Affordable Care Act. The added regulations on business and costs of the subsidies that even make ObamaCare plans affordable to customers are costs borne by taxpayers and our economy. Those have yet to disappear.