Obama administration officials insisted Monday that the tech team overseeing fixes to the troubled federal healthcare.gov website had resolved most of the errors plaguing the enrollment information being sent to insurers.
But insurers haven’t yet noticed a difference, according to a spokesman for industry lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans.
The files, known as "834" forms, contain all of the relevant personal information for individuals who have signed up for health insurance, along with details on their plan choices. But these forms have been riddled with errors such as duplicated enrollments and spouses getting mixed up with children.
If these forms are not fixed, then insurers cannot smoothly process payments or ensure that individuals are enrolled in the right plans. This could be a nightmare come Jan. 1, when individuals start attempting to use their insurance. Some may show up at doctors’ offices thinking they are covered, but find out that they never were actually enrolled.
“We believe that the majority of fixes to the 834 forms have been made, including significant ones over the weekend,” White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted.
Speaking on a Monday afternoon conference call, Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that the tech team “working with issuers determined that more than 80 percent of the 834 production errors were actually due to one bug that prevented a Social Security number from being included in an application.”
Bataille continued, “The bottom line is that we have fixed many of the bugs that led to the 834 issues. The software fixes we implemented over the past several weeks will ensure better quality information is sent to issuers so accurate 834s can be produced and enrollment completed.”
But reached by email after the conference call, AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelback told the Washington Examiner: "Health plans continue to experience significant problems with the ‘834’ enrollment files."
During the CMS call, Bataille would not disclose the error rates on the 834 transactions, despite several attempts from several different reporters.
On an Oct. 24 conference call, Bataille claimed that the errors were "isolated" and then a day later Jeff Zients, who was brought in to oversee fixes to the troubled Obamacare website, said the errors were actually on top of CMS's list of fixes.