Morning Action: Misinformation From Healthcare.gov Shows Problems are #MoreThanAGlitch
THEY KNEW. Robert Gibbs explains that according to tech experts, HHS and the White House knew before October 1 that the HealthCare.gov website was not going to work:
MISINFORMATION. CBS News reports that there is inaccurate information on the cost of healthcare at HealthCare.gov:
CBS News has uncovered a serious pricing problem with HealthCare.gov. It stems from the Obama administration’s efforts to improve its health care website. A new online feature can dramatically underestimate the cost of insurance.
The administration announced it would provide a new “shop and browse” feature Sunday, but it’s not giving consumers the real picture. In some cases, people could end up paying double of what they see on the website, CBS News’ Jan Crawford reported Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”
As President Obama promises to fix HealthCare.gov, his administration is touting what it calls “improvements” in design, specifically a feature that allows you to “See Plans Now.” White House press secretary Jay Carney has said, “Americans across the country can type in their zip code and shop and browse.”
But CBS News has learned the new “shop and browse” feature often comes with the wrong price tags.
Misinformation and secrecy both characterize the Obamacare rollout. The Administration has asked that Blue Cross Blue Shield not reveal how many individuals have signed up for health insurance through the online exchange, perhaps because of the embarrassingly low numbers:
The Obama administration asked North Dakota’s largest health insurer not to publicize how many people have signed up for health insurance through a new online exchange, a company official says.
During a Monday forum in Fargo for people interested in signing up for coverage via the exchange, James Nichol of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota told the crowd his company received the request from the federal government earlier Monday. Nichol is a consumer sales manager for the company.
Still, a spokeswoman from Blue Cross Blue Shield says about 14 North Dakotans have signed up for coverage since the federal exchange went live Oct. 1. That brings total statewide enrollment to 20 – less than one a day.
YOUNG PEOPLE. The Hill reports many of the people signing up for Obamacare are old, sick people, not the young, healthy individuals the law needs to work, and many of them are signing up for Medicaid, not Obamacare:
The error-filled rollout of ObamaCare’s enrollment site appears to have put the administration well behind its initial estimate of registering half a million people in the new exchanges this month.
Experts also expect that many of the people who are enrolling are old and sick, and not the younger, healthier uninsured people needed to make the system work.
Figuring out precisely how many people have enrolled is impossible because the administration has refused to provide any details, but it is clear that only a handful of the 20 million people the White House has reported have visited HealthCare.gov have enrolled in ObamaCare.
An administration official confirmed that 476,000 applications had been filed as of last weekend, a step that precedes signing up for coverage. At least half of these were from the 36 federally facilitated exchanges that have been plagued with problems.
A good number of those 476,000 people, however, could be trying to sign up for the healthcare law’s expansion of Medicaid, and not ObamaCare.
Moreover, healthy young men and women will see massive increases in their premiums, which will likely not be an incentive to apply for coverage:
Many younger women who purchase coverage individually will see triple-digit increases in their healthcare premiums under ObamaCare, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
The conservative American Action Forum (AAF) found that on average, a 30-year-old woman who does not smoke and buys health insurance on the individual market will see her cheapest available premium increase 193 percent.
The analysis compared the cheapest bronze-level plans available on ObamaCare’s new insurance marketplaces to the cheapest plan available in each state this year.
AAF found that base cost of coverage for its sample woman will not decrease next year in any state. The group previously reported that a 30-year-old single male nonsmoker would see his premiums increase an average of 260 percent between this and next year.
DELAY. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 2% is the first among her Senate Democrat colleagues to call for an extension of the open enrollment period for Obamacare while still maintaining that the law is good. Like many other liberal Democrats, she is unwilling to accept the law’s inherent failures:
The move makes Shaheen, of New Hampshire, the first Senate Democrat to come out for extending the open enrollment period, which is scheduled to end on March 31.
“Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll,” she wrote. “As website glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans. I also fear that people that have tried, and failed, to enroll online may become frustrated and not return to the website to try again at a later date.”
Such a delay is likely to grow more attractive as the website’s problems persist. But it doesn’t resolve the fines under the individual mandate. If consumers don’t have insurance for at least three months out of the year, they could face a portion of the fine, which amounts to $95 or 1 percent of an individual’s income. The White House indicated this week that it is working on guidance to align those dates.
Shaheen stressed that she strongly supports the law and wants to see it work well but that this fix is necessary to ensure that it does.