We have fixed a system error that affected tax credits for some applicants. We apologize & will notify those affected bit.ly/1ai1FGL—
WA Healthplanfinder (@WAplanfinder) October 25, 2013
If you click the link in Washington Healthplanfinder’s tweet, you’ll learn that “some applicants” actually equals 8,000 people. And what was that system error again? According to CBS News, it’s “a serious pricing problem with HealthCare.gov” that “can dramatically underestimate the cost of insurance,” leaving people paying double the price calculated on the website.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange explains that inconsistent files being shared between Washington’s state exchange and the federal government caused around 8,000 applicants to qualify for higher tax credits than allowed based on income and household size. In other words, thousands are about to learn that insurance through the exchange is going to cost more than they were told.
Forbes’ Scott Gottlieb explains how people are “getting a blatantly false picture of how much the new coverage really costs.”
Figuring out how much premium subsidy an individual or family is entitled to requires that the Healthcare.gov “hub” communicate across servers housed at state Medicaid agencies, the Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security (among other federal agencies). That necessary data sharing has proven too much for the site’s architecture to handle.
This is what’s causing so many applications to get kicked out — but what about those applications that make it all the way through? At least half a dozen states have already said publicly that their systems are coming up with the wrong calculations.
It’s a sure bet that some consumers who make it through the web site’s maze, and enroll, will also have their subsidies calculated incorrectly.
Washington Healthplanfinder says those thousands affected eventually will be invited back to complete their “shopping experience” and change their plans. In the meantime, any stories about lower premiums are very likely wrong.