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Thousands who signed up with Healthcare.gov encounter errors that cannot be fixed

Monday, February 24, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Healthcare.gov, website errors, Obamacare

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(NaturalNews) The Obama administration has told the country repeatedly that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making progress in fixing the myriad of problems with the federal Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, but despite those assurances, a number of problems and glitches remain.

As reported by The Washington Post, tens of thousands of Americans have recently discovered that the website made a number of mistakes as they were enrolling for coverage. And worse, they have since discovered another problem: Uncle Sam can't get the mistakes fixed:

Roughly 22,000 Americans have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post. They contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.

And this is only the number the paper has been given; it's hard telling, given the continued problems with the site, how large the number actually is.

No system in place yet for appeals

Unfortunately, for the time being, appeals filed by these thousands of Americans are idle; they are sitting in a government computer, and no one is attending to them. The Post said further that an unknown number of consumers who are attempting to get some assistance through less formal means, like calling the healthcare marketplace directly, are being summarily informed that Healthcare.gov's system is not yet permitting federal workers to go into enrollment records and fix them, sources told the paper.

"It is definitely frustrating and not fair," Addie Wilson, 27, who lives in Fairmont, W.Va., and earns $22,000 a year working with at-risk families, told the Post. She added that she must cough up an additional $100 per month more than she should have to for the insurance she selected. She also says her $4,000 deductible is way too high:

When Wilson logged on to HealthCare.gov in late December, she needed coverage right away. Her old insurance was ending, and she was to have gallbladder surgery in January. But the Web site would not calculate the federal subsidy to which she knew she was entitled. Terrified to go without coverage, Wilson phoned a federal call center and took the advice she was given: Pay the full price now and appeal later.

Now she is stuck.

"I hope they really work on getting this fixed," she said.

In late October, after a disastrous, glitch-prone rollout of the federal enrollment site, government contractors promised that fixes were being made. Officials promised specifically that the site would be fixed by December 15, the deadline to obtain benefits by Jan. 1, when all Americans are required under the law to have coverage or face a tax penalty.

Hearings to begin 'soon'

Not only have problems persisted beyond the Dec. 15 deadline, but the administration had failed to make public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace was not up and running, despite being pressured by legal advocates who reminded the administration that Obamacare's rules guarantee timely hearings to Americans who believe that they have wrongly been denied insurance or taxpayer-supported subsidies.

Still, at present, "there is no indication that infrastructure... necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings has even been created, let alone become operational," said attorneys at the National Health Law Program in a late-December letter to leaders of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS agency that oversees Healthcare.gov.

Aaron Albright, a CMS spokesman, told the paper, "We are working to fully implement the appeals system."

And on cue, the next day, Reuters reported that Healthcare.gov enrollment appeal hearings would begin "soon," according to the administration.

"CMS is working to fully implement an automated appeals system. Until we have that functionality, we are putting in place a manual review process wherever possible and expect hearings to begin soon," the agency said, in a statement. "In the meantime, CMS is reaching out to these consumers to provide assistance so they can successfully complete their application without the need to complete the appeals process."






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