Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Long Does Obama Have To Fix Healthcare.gov?


By Julie Appleby

KHN Staff Writer

OCT 21, 2013

“They've got a few weeks.

But if federal officials can’t get the new online insurance marketplace running smoothly by mid-November, the problems plaguing the three-week-old website could become a far bigger threat to the success of the health law, hampering enrollment and fueling opponents’ calls to delay implementation, say analysts.”

That is only 3 weeks from today   October 22, 2013.  According to sources, there are over 3 million lines of ‘code’ to review and correct as necessary.

If the administration solves the problems before the end of October, “this would just be a blip on the radar,” said Dan Mendelson of consulting firm Avalere Health in Washington.

If problems cannot be resolved that quickly, Mendelson said “there are other options for getting people enrolled,” noting that Medicare beneficiaries signed up for coverage for decades without using computers.



The president also mentioned those options Monday, saying consumers could sign up by telephone, in person with trained assisters or by downloading an application and mailing it in. (28 pages)

But those options are not ideal, mainly because millions of applications would have to be manually checked across several federal agencies.

“That would take significantly longer than if it was automated,”

Some analysts suggest that if problems persist into late November or December, that the Obama administration will need to consider extending the open enrollment period.

Such a decision, however, would have political and financial ramifications.

These events have created a political and administrative bonfire. It impacts financial planning by insurance companies, and to say the least…..the object for affordable care, the patients themselves. Unfortunately patients are left for last, covered in dust, smoke and mirrors.

Because the health law is primarily aimed at low to moderate income people – and their household cash flow is often drained by holiday gift spending and replenished by February tax refunds -- getting the exchange working by November isn’t critical, said Brian Haile, senior vice president of healthcare policy at Jackson Hewitt tax service.

“If you’re trying to sell something you need to do it at a period during which you don’t have competing consumption,” said Haile. “After Nov. 1 … foremost on their minds is not, ‘Am I going to buy insurance?’ but ‘What am I going to put under the tree?’ ”

Jay Hancock, Anna Gorman and Philip Galewitz contributed.

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