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December 04, 2013

Obama's Fixed Website Is So Totally Fixed He's Telling Insurers to "Estimate" People's Subsidies For Them

The "fixed" website is fixed in the sense it lets you enter all of your personal information into a massive sucking black hole of identity theft. That it permits you to do.

Well, it permits you to do that sometimes. Other times it makes you wait for the privilege of entering your most personal and confidential data into a Hacker's Paradise.

After a glowing news conference yesterday citing “night and day” progress on HealthCare.gov, I decided to log in this morning and take the Web site for a test drive, as I’m sure many others are doing. Early reports had been promising. What I found was hardly encouraging — long delays loading pages, an endless circle of tasks (some already completed) and ultimately an error message.

4-error-message.png

How about shopping for insurance policies? Nah bro, it won't let you do that. Comparison shopping between different products on a website is the sort of Star Wars like technology we can only yet dream of.

So I decided to try the site again this afternoon. This time, I didn’t see the “Please Wait” flags that bogged me down yesterday, but I had a more fundamental problem. When I got to the step of comparing health plans, I couldn’t see any.

healthplans_630_131203.jpg

So far so good! Healthcare.gov has three big steps: Apply. Shop. Buy. So far you can't do either of the first two. But I have high hopes for the third.

Well not really, because the code for buying a policy hasn't even been written yet. Oh well!

But at least it will calculate your subsidy for you.

Nah bro, it can't do that either. So Obama has pulled out his Magic Legislation-Rewriting Pen again and willed that the Insurance Companies should illegally "estimate" your subsidy for you.

President Barack Obama's administration has found a short-term fix to pay insurance companies for plans selected on HealthCare.gov, the not-yet-complete government website used to shop for insurance required under Obama's healthcare program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet finished building the part of the website that would transfer billions of dollars in subsidies for plan premiums and cost-sharing payments to insurance companies.

It is part of a long technical to-do list that has so far focused on fixing the errors and lag times in the part of the website used by consumers.

...

The administration is planning a "workaround" for payments, said Daniel Durham, vice president for policy and regulatory affairs at America's Health Insurance Plans.

Health plans will estimate how much they are owed, and submit that estimate to the government. Once the system is built, the government and insurers can reconcile the payments made with the plan data to "true up" payments, he said.

What does "true up" mean? Who pays the difference? Apparently not the consumer -- it will be the government and insurers reconciling the estimate to the actual subsidy. So apparently the government will pay the difference between estimated and actual subsidy?

And don't insurance companies have an incentive to estimate upwards, suggesting a bigger subsidy than the real one, to sign people up?

How much will this fresh incompetence cost us?

The fix puts an additional "burden" on insurance companies, already taxed by having to double-check faulty enrollment data from the HealthCare.gov system.

And here's the kicker: Insurers have to build this system to estimate subsidies in... like a week.

Now, companies need to quickly put together financial management systems to make the payment estimates, so they can be paid beginning in January, he said.

Actually, that's not the kicker. I lied. I do that that a lot. Lying is my cardio.

The real kicker is this: Insurers may begin exiting the exchanges entirely if they can't get paid for policies they're supposed to be covering. The article mentions that some big insurers may have a pile of money to "cushion" them during a period of paying out claims and yet not receiving any premium checks, but smaller companies don't.

"They cannot survive if they don't get paid. And even the larger carriers, it can only go on for so long," Lucia said. "The last thing we need is for a carrier, especially a large carrier, to walk away from this."

Thanks to John Ekdahl.


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posted by Ace at 02:35 PM

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