A fresh set of problems plague Obamacare, frustrate insurers

Obama-Sebelius-2-10-12As if HealthCare.org weren’t plagued with enough problems, it now turns out that it’s sending insurance providers corrupted data about the few applicants who make it all the way through the site.

Michigan can find no evidence that anyone there has signed up for Obamacare, the Detroit Free Press reported. Vermont reported 712 enrollees, at a cost of $9 million, or $12,000 per person, according to the Daily Mail. And The Associated Press reported that “at least 23” South Dakotans signed up for the program in the first two weeks. Now, on top of sparse enrollment, the system is spitting out flawed data.

As a result, insurers are having problems keeping up with even the paucity of successful enrollees, and are even having to hire temporary workers, according to MarketWatch, which reported:

Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.

“The longer this takes to resolve . . . the harder it will be to get people to [come back and] sign up,” Aetna Inc. Chief Executive Mark Bertolini said, according to MarketWatch.

“It’s not off to a great start,” he said, though he believes the marketplaces are “here to stay.”

What President Obama originally described as “a few glitches” has become a fundamental flaw with the system’s design.

“It is a core problem in the sense of it’s fundamental to this thing actually working, but it’s not necessarily a problem that the people who wrote HealthCare.gov can get to,” John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace, told USA Today. “Even if they had a perfect system, it still won’t work.”

Engates said that HealthCare.gov was built using 10-year-old technology — an eternity in web design. He added that Band-Aid fixes aren’t enough to get it up and running properly. It needs a complete overhaul.

It took three years to get the system up. Does that mean another three years?

The catastrophe that U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., predicted Obamacare would become is now happening, and just like any other train wreck, it’s hard to avert our eyes.

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