Technical Glitches Hindering Some State-Run Insurance Exchanges

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On Wednesday, officials overseeing online health insurance exchanges in Colorado, Oregon and the District of Columbia announced that the systems will be unable to perform several key functions when open enrollment begins next week because of specific technical glitches, Reuters reports (Begley, Reuters, 9/25).

The glitches are among a string of issues that have emerged with both state-operated and federally run exchanges being developed under the Affordable Care Act (Sun/Somashekhar, Washington Post, 9/25).

Background on Exchanges' Technical Glitches

Last week, several insurance executives and sources familiar with the exchanges said the Obama administration is "scrambling" to quickly address a series of "pricing quirks" in the software that will be used for the roughly three dozen federally run health insurance exchanges under the ACA.

Specifically, the unidentified executives and sources said the exchanges' calculator application -- which is still in the testing phase -- cannot reliably determine the costs that consumers would have to pay for coverage. They also noted that the testing of the software -- which was scheduled to begin months ago -- only just began this week.

In addition, CMS on Wednesday acknowledged that federally run marketplaces will not be able to electronically transfer Medicaid applications to states when U.S. residents begin signing up for health coverage on Oct. 1.

A CMS spokesperson said the Medicaid applications will not be electronically relayed to the state-managed programs until Nov. 1 but noted that individuals could sign up directly through the states' offices (iHealthBeat, 9/25).

DC Health Link Issues

Officials with DC Health Link -- Washington, D.C.'s health insurance exchange -- say that the marketplace's system currently is unable to determine whether an applicant is eligible for Medicaid coverage or calculate whether he or she qualifies for a federal subsidy and the amount of the subsidy.

Instead of using the online system, applicants will be connected with a trained staff member who will be able to help complete the applications offline and enroll applicants within 24 hours. Officials added that individuals who are not eligible for any subsidies still will be able to complete their enrollment applications online.

Connect for Health Colorado Issues

Meanwhile, employees of Connect for Health Colorado -- the state's health insurance exchange -- told board members this week that its system will not be able to calculate applicants' federal subsidies for at least the first few weeks after Oct. 1, Reuters reports.

A spokesperson said that applicants still will be able to complete the bulk of their application online but that they likely will be asked to call customer service representatives, who can help calculate their subsidies manually.

Cover Oregon Issues

On Wednesday, officials for Cover Oregon said that IT problems are causing policy information, such as deductibles, to display incorrectly. However, officials said the exchange still will begin enrolling applicants Oct. 1 (Reuters, 9/25).

Matt Wayt
The article has been updated to reflect that Cover Oregon will begin enrolling applicants Oct. 1. -- The Editors

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