Online Health Exchanges Will Take a Month to Fix

After a laundry list of glitches have made it difficult – if not impossible – for consumers to use the online health exchanges, the Obama administration has announced a repair timetable that will have the sites fully operational by the end of November.

The administration has hired private firm Quality Software Services Inc. to fix the more than 100 issues with the exchange server that have frustrated consumers since the exchanges opened October 1. QSSI, an arm of UnitedHealth Group, is one of three contractors originally engaged to create the system. Among the reported issues are inaccurate reports and the failure of as many as 30 percent of consumers to successfully complete the enrollment process.

Though the proposed timeline is shorter than originally anticipated, it still cuts very close to the December 15 deadline for purchasing coverage to begin January 1. As a result, many lawmakers have called for extending the individual mandate deadline or deferring penalties for non-enrollment. The current deadline to avoid a tax penalty is March 31.

Issues with the exchange have frustrated consumers who are already unsure about the impact of the ACA and have prompted criticism from both sides of the aisle. The Obama administration is facing political fallout as well as a public relations quagmire: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been called upon to step down, and President Obama has addressed ongoing concerns with varying success.

Troubleshooter Jeffrey Zients remarked that the exchanges will “get better” by the week until it “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users” at the end of November.

Consumers should be prepared for a shortened enrollment period if an extension is not enacted. If you are one of the millions who will purchase insurance on the exchange, PRN Funding can provide the cash flow you need to be ready when the exchanges are fully functional. Learn more about our healthcare factoring programs and contact us today to get started.

Who is to Blame for Healthcare Exchange Glitches?

The rollout of online health exchange site at the beginning of the month has been stymied with glitches preventing millions of consumers from creating accounts or completing the enrollment process, along with as many as 100 additional flaws found in the system. Testimony before a panel convened by the House of Representatives has provided an object of public blame for these glitches: contractor from Canadian firm CGI Group Inc.

Cheryl Campbell, senior VP of the unit responsible for site design, testified before the House that more time should have been devoted to end-to-end testing and refused to give a set date for the site to be fully functional. Campbell claimed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – the Health and Human Services agency responsible for the health exchanges – made the final decision to take the site live despite inadequate testing. She also testified, however, that CGI did not make a recommendation to delay the site launch.

Other contractors testified that they were only given two weeks to perform testing, far shorter than the industry standard of months. Each contractor maintained that they fulfilled their part of the project and disavowed responsibility for the final product, and none could provide a definitive date for the glitches to be resolved.

Experts in the tech world, meanwhile, have suggested that the issues with could be a technical “black swan” event, or a project that faces out-of-control costs and extreme consequences that could spell failure – in this case, a failure for the Obama administration. President Barack Obama has publicly decried the situation, claiming “Nobody’s madder than me.”

Testimony will continue throughout the week and possibly into next week, but the administration has already appointed a contractor to repair the site as quickly as possible.

PRN Funding’s factoring programs for healthcare vendors provide necessary cash flow to invest in offering quality healthcare goods and services to healthcare providers nationwide. Contact us to find out how healthcare factoring can save your company from creating its own “black swan”.

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Online Health Insurance Marketplaces Face Tech Hurdles

The rollout of online health marketplaces was marked with technological difficulties at various stages of the process.

Users attempting to access the federal marketplace via experienced glitches when signing up for an account, which the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services attributes to overwhelming visitor traffic during the first several hours the exchange was live. While the CMS claims they addressed initial issues right away, the marketplace was still fraught with issues well into the afternoon and eventually shut down.

State-run marketplaces in 17 different states also reported high traffic and sporadic glitches. Users may seek assistance via the live chat function or call centers, or they may contact a local healthcare representative. Unfortunately, these avenues will not allow customers to compare plans or view more detailed information regarding each plan’s deductibles and coverage. Some states are still experiencing issues today.

While not unexpected, these issues have frustrated and dismayed many consumers who are eager to realize the promise of affordable healthcare. Still, a number of people have successfully used the marketplace to purchase insurance, and consumers still have plenty of time to sign up for insurance – the deadline for coverage beginning January 1 is December 15, and the open enrollment period will continue until March 31, 2014. Officials maintain that glitches are normal for any large-scale tech rollout (see: Apple); for the moment, consumers may be better off just waiting it out.

Currently, approximately 15 percent of the population is expected to use the marketplace to purchase insurance in the absence of employer-provided health plans or benefits from the VA, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Learn how factoring can provide the cash flow to provide insurance to your employees.