HealthCare.gov site can't fix its own mistakes -- report

So far, there's no way to fix errors in premiums and deductibles that have saddled some consumers with higher costs, says The Washington Post.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Around 22,000 people have reportedly appealed the government to correct mistakes made by HealthCare.gov in their insurance plans. But as of now, an appeals system isn't even in place.

Consumers are complaining that they were charged too much for insurance, forced into the wrong plan, or denied coverage altogether when enrolling for insurance on HealthCare.gov, The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing internal government data. Further, the computer system used by HealthCare.gov won't let federal employees change enrollment records at this point, the Post added, according to people inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation.

"There is no indication that infrastructure...necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings has even been created, let alone become operational," attorneys at the National Health Law Program wrote in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that manages the HealthCare.gov site. Even the CMS has acknowledged that the system is not quite up and running, telling the Post that "we are working to fully implement the appeals system."

As such, disgruntled consumers are stuck in limbo with the government failing to act on their requests to correct mistakes. One person told the Post that she has to pay $100 more per month than she should for insurance and that her deductible is $4,000 too high. Another who called the CMS support team was reportedly told by someone that "the system is not set up to go into someone's account and correct a mistake."

In response to questions about the appeals system, a CMS spokesperson sent CNET the following statement:

As we work to fully implement the appeals system, CMS is working directly with consumers to address concerns they have raised through this process. We have found that the appeals filed are largely related to previous system errors, most of which have since been fixed. We are inviting those consumers back to healthcare.gov where they can reset and successfully finish their applications without needing to complete the appeals process. We are also working to ensure that consumers who wish to continue with their appeal are able to do so.

Update, 8:55 a.m. PT: Added response from CMS.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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