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October 18th, 2013 12:06 pm
Obamacare Fed Exchange Problems Run Deeper than Reported

Yuval Levin has a must-read summary of the problems crippling Obamacare’s federal health insurance exchange, Healthcare.gov.

The summary is based on Levin’s interviews with sources in the Obama administration and in the health insurance industry.

Key problems include:

·    Overly Complex: A “late-in-the-game decision to require users to go through a complex account-creation process before even reaching any coverage options.” Not only does this block users from seeing prices up front, the slap-dash decision is the main reason people can’t access the site.

·    Inadequate Oversight: The Obama administration did not hire a general contractor to oversee the IT project, opting instead to keep oversight in-house. The inability of health policy people to adequately manage the technical details meant big problems were not understood until too late.

·    Erroneous Subsidy Calculations: So far, this hasn’t gotten much attention because only a few people have been able to complete the purchasing process. But as Levin points out, if the front-end log-in problems get resolved, the back-end problems regarding faulty subsidy calculations could severely undercut both consumers’ and providers’ confidence in the system. If millions of people buy insurance with a subsidy they don’t qualify for, that’s millions of angry voters who will owe a refund to the IRS come tax time.

Today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) gives more detail into this burgeoning crisis.

“Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations,” reports the paper.

The reality is that the dissatisfaction with Healthcare.gov is likely to get much worse. With the shutdown saga behind us, perhaps some politically savvy conservatives in Washington can figure out a way to turn the growing frustration into a mandate for delay.

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