The Obama administration said Saturday that the rate of inaccuracies in a key enrollment records from HealthCare.gov is declining, but a federal analysis shows about 15,000 consumer sign up forms were never sent to insurance companies due to technical problems with the website.
Following the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, the online enrollment tool for Americans to sign up for health insurance, Obama administration officials vowed to get the site working for the vast majority of users.
But since the October 1 site launch and start of open enrollment, insurers have reported issues with application forms known as 834 forms sent from HealthCare.gov to the insurance companies.
Julie Batallie, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees the site, said that between the October launch date and December 5, fewer than 15,000 consumers experienced issues with 834s.
“Since the beginning of December, missing 834s as a percentage of total enrollments has been close to zero,” she said in a blog post on the Department of Health and Human service website.
A graph accompanying the blog post shows missing 834 forms at its highest rate between October 13-26 at just over 15%. That rate has fallen to 0.38% between November 24 and December 5.
Americans must select a policy by December 23 and start paying premiums by December 31 in order to start coverage by January 1. With the deadline looming, HHS officials are concerned cases will emerge involving people who thought they signed up for coverage but are not actually enrolled.
According to Batallie, most of the problems occurred between the launch date and the first few weeks of November and improvements can be attributed to fixes applied in the end of the month. Over 70 software fixes CMS addressed in recent weeks have related to issues with 834 forms.
Officials said earlier this month that more than 80% of the mistakes on applications were caused by one bug that has now been addressed.
Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plan, the professional association that represents the health insurance industry, said the data files sent this week “have helped to provide a more complete picture of the size and scope of the technical problems that have existed with the ‘back end’ enrollment processes.”
“Helping consumers through the enrollment process to get the coverage they need is health plans’ top priority,” Zirkelbach continued. “The more focused, integrated process CMS put in place over the past two weeks to address the problems with the ‘834s’ has made a difference and the enrollment files are getting better. There is still more work to do to ensure consumers are enrolled and health plans will continue to work with federal and state officials to get these issues resolved as quickly as possible.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced an internal review of the website earlier this week ahead of an appearance before a House subcommittee.
The department also released the latest enrollment numbers showing nearly 365,000 people have signed up for Obamacare in its first two months – a far cry from the 7 million projected to ultimately enroll for 2014.