I reported on this disaster a few days ago. Now the Administration is trying to fix it. The problem is immense! The New York Times Headline says merely “thousands” will be question about their subsidies.
The Obama administration is contacting hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health insurance to resolve questions about their eligibility, as consumer advocates express concern that many will be required to repay some or all of the subsidies.
Of the eight million people who signed up for private health plans through insurance exchanges under the new health care law, two million reported personal information that differed from data in government records, according to federal officials and Serco, the company hired to resolve such inconsistencies.
The government is asking consumers for additional documents to verify their income, citizenship, immigration status and Social Security numbers, as well as any health coverage that they may have from employers. People who do not provide the information risk losing their subsidized coverage and may have to repay subsidies next April.
Notice here that there is no court of law mentioned. This is all being done by a private company. What if they make a mistake? What if they lose the documents someone sends them? This company seems to have the power to stop a person’s coverage.
That’s a strange situation for a program run by an Administration that claims to believe healthcare is a “right.”
And it is not merely theoretical. The problem of missing papers is already happening!
Mara Youdelman, a lawyer at the National Health Law Program, an advocacy group for low-income people, said: “In some cases, consumers say they already sent the documents to the federal marketplace. They don’t understand why they are being asked to send them in again.”
Also, even “hundreds of thousands” seems to downplay the size of the disaster. The story leads us to expect that at least two million people must be investigated.
Nor do I see any evidence that this is a onetime problem. What happens when new people apply for coverage in 2015? Once again we will face the problem of discrepancies. Unless the exchanges can verify the information before enrollment we are going to go through this whole crisis a second time for some people.
Also, what about the insurance companies trying to figure out what their rates should be? If people are going to have to pay back their subsidies I suspect many won’t be able to do so in a timely manner. I think this would affect whether insurance companies are able to stay solvent with Obamacare.