This is going to get ugly.
Unresolved technical problems on HealthCare.gov could lead to a rude surprise at the doctor’s office next month for patients who think they successfully used the website to sign up for health insurance. They may find they’re not insured after all.
HealthCare.gov, the federal online portal for health-insurance shopping in more than 30 states, has improved after more than a month of intense fixes, and enrollment is accelerating. But insurance companies are still getting information on their would-be customers that is garbled and incomplete, and in some cases they are getting no information at all. President Barack Obama’s administration is scrambling to repair the faulty system, but scant time remains until the Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to choose a health plan that will be in place Jan. 1.
Sometime, shortly after the start of the new year, someone will get hurt in a car accident. Some one else will have a heart attack or stroke. They will be rushed to the hospital and they will find out, much to their surprise, they have no insurance. They will claim they went to the Obamacare exchange and enrolled and they will have emails to prove it. The insurance companies will claim they never received the enrollment information.
As the month progresses, thousands of these will appear. The optics will be very bad.
There is another group who are in for a big surprise too. If you don’t get your payment to your insurance company by January 1, you aren’t just late, your policy is void and you are flat out without insurance.
If you want to be insured come Jan. 1, you have to pay your first month’s premium by your insurer’s due date, often Dec. 31.
Sounds simple enough, but federal officials and insurers are concerned that many consumers don’t realize they have to take this last step and will remain uninsured. What’s more, those who don’t pay by then may have their Obamacare applications terminated, forcing them to re-enroll via healthcare.gov for coverage that will begin later in 2014.
There will be tens of thousands in this category. Some will try to submit payment during the first week of January, but it will be too late. They will be among the newly uninsured.
All of these people will hit the exchanges during the first couple weeks of 2014, crashing the system once again.
Naturally there will be an executive order from Obama requiring hospitals to treat these people. I can’t even imagine how messy that supersized soup sandwich on a hard roll will be.