Giving the health care exchanges a check-up

Affordable Care Act navigator Nini Hadwen (R) works with Marta Aguirre as she shops for health insurance during a navigation session.

Glitches, IT troubles, snafus. Whatever you want to call them, healthcare.gov is still plagued with all kinds of trouble. Federal officials aren’t saying too much about the source of the technical problems with the online insurance exchanges. But an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday says the glitches with healthcare.gov raise bigger questions about the federal government’s IT policies.

I spoke with Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation. It’s a nonprofit that pushes for greater government transparency. Lee said there aren’t enough computer programmers on the federal payroll.

“Government has really adopted a stance where it’s completely dependent on vendor expertise to build the things it has to build,” he said. “There’s very little technical expertise at most agencies which is disappointing and leads to these kinds of disasters.”

Health officials keep reminding the public that the enrollment period is ‘a marathon, not a sprint,’ and that it lasts until the end of March. But the health policy people I’ve talked to this week say they’ve circled November 1 as the date by which healthcare.gov needs to be running smoothly.

That gives consumers six weeks to enroll in a plan and still have their coverage kick in on January 1. If the online troubles continue past the beginning of November, there’s some worry there won’t be enough time to assist everyone who wants to enroll.

These glitches also stymie all the “experts” trying to make sense of the different plans. Paula Wade an insurance-market analyst with HealthLeaders-Inter Study  flagged a page on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website that outlines premium prices around the country.

She’s starting to see a trend.

“The markets where there are several serious competitors, like California and Texas, the pricing is pretty good for consumers,” says Wade.

Wade says in the Houston area, a healthy 27-year-old could pay as little as $137 a month in premiums for a lower-tier bronze plan, and that’s before subsidies kick in. (Just remember, the monthly premium does NOT include out-of-pocket costs, or deductibles.)

But not all states are equal. Wade says in states like Alabama where there are few insurers offering plans on the exchanges, there aren’t great deals like there are in Texas, where more insurers are in the game.

If you want more details on a breakdown of the plans, check out this piece from Kaiser Health News.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.
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The goal of Obamacare is to provide affordable health insurance for everyone including people with low economic status. Since the release of Obamacare on Oct. 1st there have been problem after problem with the website and the glitches. Now there is not only the glitches problem but another problem that could ultimately make Obamacare fail. Since Medicaid is now being offered to more individuals because of the reform and also insurance companies cannot deny service to individuals who are elderly or who have pre-existing conditions which are the individuals with higher medical bills. Obamacare can only succeed if the young and healthy keep buying health insurance to balance out the cost of other individuals low economic status or people with higher medical bills. If you want to learn more about this other problem that Obamacare is facing I found all my information off a really great article. The link to the article is listed below, hope this helps you understand more of the situation at hand!


Hello !!
I am discussing here a serious talk, my senior is suffering from a major disease from last two years but he didn't get proper solutions, he needs help of us. Help him, save him.

I have been trying to login to the Marketplace since October 1. It took about 2 or 3 days to successfully create an account (depending on your definition of success). 16 days into the marketplace... I have not been able to login. Starting on day 2 or 3, I got an "invalid credentials" message. Starting last week, the message change to just ERROR (in red letters).

I am resident of North Carolina, my state elected to use the federal marketplace rather than operate their own.

I used the chat feature a couple times... I got some very friendly people that were no help whatsoever. They said "we are experiencing a high volume of usage, try logging in at offpeak times." A useless and irrelevant answer.

I called. I have spoken to several very friendly people that were no help whatsoever. The first time I called a very cheerful man read me the exact information that is available on the website. I finally got someone to log a technical support ticket last week. About 5 days later I got a call from a person claiming to be technical support. Her technical solution (after I pressed her due to my growing lack of patience with the situation)... "we are aware there is an issue with some user ID's, we do not have a timeframe on a resolution. Continue trying to login." I asked if anyone in the state of North Carolina has successfully logged into the Marketplace, she said "we do not have statistical information available."

I am a HUGE supporter of healthcare reform. Unfortunately, the rollout of the Marketplace has been a HUGE failure. It seems VERY likely I will not have long to compare available plans before the December 15 deadline for coverage effective January 1. I am hopeful I will be able to use the Marketplace before the January 1 enrollment deadline of December 15.

I am concerned that the failure of the Marketplace rollout will be incorrectly used as an example of why healthcare reform is bad. Healthcare reform is not bad, the execution of the Marketplace is what is bad. I am hopeful those responsible for the failure of the Marketplace rollout are held accountable.

OK, The navigators don't seem to know much about important aspects of signing up for the ACA. My friend, a recent widow from NY, is trying to sign up. The navigator don't know if her widow's pension will be used to determine her eligibility . Also, when she filled out the forms on the computer it stated that she was ineligible for discounts because her income was too large, yet she fits in under the poverty line at $24,000.00 yearly income. Her income is her widow's pension and her social security. Now the navigators tell her she has to wait to get a letter from NY denying her subsidies and then argue her case. She has not signed up yet for any plan as of yet because she first must figure out what she can afford.

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