Obamacare 2015: www.Glitch.gov

News-placeholder-7

Obamacare’s disastrous debut last October caused quite an upheaval across the nation. Families and businesses encountered staggering premium hikes, cancelled plans and a glitch-ridden website that didn’t function. With open enrollment just months away, many are wondering if the law’s second year will face the same dreadful fate. According to the new CEO of HealthCare.gov, it doesn’t look promising. A repeat of last year will most likely ensue.

“In some respects, it’s going to be more complicated,” said Kevin Counihan, the former chief executive of Access Health CT, Connecticut’s online marketplace, who was just named as the head of the insurance marketplaces for the federal government. …“Part of me thinks that this year is going to make last year look like the good old days.” [1]

Counihan’s forewarning provides little comfort to the millions of enrollees preparing for the renewal process. The steep hurdles the Administration must overcome, as noted by the New York Times, could further derail the healthcare train wreck.

Paying more again. The Times cautions that individuals could find themselves forking over more of their hard-earned money for healthcare next year, which is no surprise. Releases of state insurance rate premium forecasts show rising costs, with few exceptions.

In Vermont, the rates are increasing as much as 10%. [2] In red states like Arizona, it’s not any better. The average price hike for the Grand Canyon State will be 11% with some like Humana jumping 25%. [3] “Some of the Blue Cross plans, have requested steep increases. Florida Blue, for example, expects to raise its rates by an average of 17.6% for 2015.”[1]

Enrollment number challenge. While the Obama Administration is hoping to maintain current numbers of enrollees, it will strive “to persuade about five million more people to sign up.” [1] The problem is the time frame to amass such an ambitious goal has been cut in half to 3 months. With limited outreach resources and harder-to-reach populations, adding millions more could be more difficult.

“Experts like Sabrina Corlette, a policy expert at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, say persuading those who did not sign up for coverage during the last open enrollment period to get coverage for 2015 will also present a significant challenge. People in this group were unaware they could get assistance with the cost of their premiums, decided the coverage was not worth the cost or simply found the process of enrolling too challenging.” [1]

Factor in that open enrollment starts November 15th – the beginning of the holiday season when families are already stretching their budgets – and the numbers needed to sustain this healthcare monstrosity will likely lag.

Renewal glitch in the making. One the main culprits of the botched rollout was the failure to fully test the system before it was implemented. Giving the green light to launch, then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured the President and Americans that HealthCare.gov was ready. It wasn’t until after the launch the public discovered there was not “a single test as to whether or not an individual could ‘complete the [enrollment] process from beginning to end” until September 26 – only days before going live.” [4]

Instead of learning from past failures, the Administration is on the path to repeat history as the details of the renewal process have not been disclosed, delaying insurers’ abilities to properly test the system.

“Exactly how the renewal process will work has not yet been determined.

‘We’re still waiting on the details of the process,’ said Paula Steiner, chief strategy officer for Health Care Service Corporation, which offers Blue Cross plans in five states. ‘We haven’t gone through any testing yet of any changes to the system for 2015.’

‘I think there’s a possibility that there’s equal or more confusion this fall,’ she said.” [1]

Many are already bracing for Glitch.gov 2.0. As Counihan said, the “good old days” of Obamacare may be behind us.