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About 25% of HealthCare.gov Applications Have Errors 157

Posted by timothy
from the depends-how-serious-they-are dept.
itwbennett writes "An estimated one in four user applications sent from HealthCare.gov to insurance providers have errors introduced by the website, an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said during a press briefing Friday. The errors include missing forms, duplicate forms and incorrect information in the applications, such as wrong information about an applicant's marital status, said Julie Bataille, communications director for HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While the software bugs leading to the errors have largely been fixed, as many as 10 percent of insurance applications may still have errors and consumers who have used HealthCare.gov to buy insurance and have concerns that their applications haven't been processed or have errors should contact their insurers, Bataille said."
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About 25% of HealthCare.gov Applications Have Errors

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  • An internal investigation into the magical healthcare.gov form errors ended when they noticed several changes attributed to "Yiuf, Crazy".

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @06:27AM (#45625701)

    You can keep your errors.

    Period.

  • Data In, Garbage Out (Score:5, Informative)

    by davide marney (231845) <.davide.marney. .at. .netmedia.org.> on Saturday December 07, 2013 @06:45AM (#45625741) Journal

    By this point, I think people generally understand that Healthcare.gov is to be avoided if at all possible. This system of systems is a monster (reportedly 500 million lines of code at 60-70% completion), and it's probably too big to test -- testing might take longer than it took to write, i.e., the QA death spiral.

    The only reason to use the exchange is to get a subsidy. If you are a normal taxpayer who won't qualify for one, go off-exchange.

    Or, join a religious health care pool, which are medical cost-sharing plans that are exempt from the law.

    • You can still get the service by calling in.

      I will never do that however, because there's no way I'm giving the US federal government any of my medical information voluntarily. Though, they likely have it all already anyway.

      • You can still get the service by calling in.

        I will never do that however, because there's no way I'm giving the US federal government any of my medical information voluntarily. Though, they likely have it all already anyway.

        This isn't a traditional insurance application. Since insurers can't jack up your rates because you had a medical problem when you were 12 the website doesn't ask about your medical history. The medical info they ask for is limited to your age.

        Which they already know, because that's on your Social Security records, your birth certificate, your driver's license, your income tax form, etc.

        • by Bartles (1198017)
          Insurance companies generally only ask for a 10-year medical history when applying for insurance. If you are 23, what happened when you were 12 usually wont affect anything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204)

      Just don't depend on actually getting any money out from the religious health care pools. Unlike actual insurance companies, they have no legal obligation to pay at all. They also tend to happily take your 'donation' each month, but when you actually need to make a claim they'll decide your behavior is too sinful and kick you out. The main insurance industry is quite dodgy enough when it comes to finding excuses to avoid paying out - religious 'cost sharing' agencies are even worse.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        Any citations? In my area the churchs tend to help the poor and needy (all denominations from buddist to christian as well) WAY more than the government does.
        • I can find some anecdotal horror stories, of course. But we both know anecdotes are worthless.

          The best known of the pools is probably Medi-Share. From a website sympathetic to their position, http://christianpf.com/christian-health-insurance-alternative/ [christianpf.com]

          - You must adhere to living a strict Biblical lifestyle in order to maintain your membership. Not doing so can get you expelled from the program and will likely nullify any claims you may have as well.
          - 'For example, she told me a story of a member who was i

          • That sounds like a great deal if you live clean anyway. If you don't drink much, don't plan on getting pregnant, and don't care for routine examinations it's a great deal - just like the cheaper health insurance plans that are now illegal.

            As for the "scare" from your link, it was one case where the company decided it could not legally provide insurance in the state where the people lived - unfortunate but not really a company issue. And an arbitration panel agreed with that assessment when challenged, Yo

        • Really?

          I live in an areas that has a mix of wealthy religious people of numerous faiths, and low-income people. The religious institutions around here do a lot of relatively cheap stuff that is easy to tell people about like soup kitchens, thanksgiving turkeys, and financial literacy classes. Raising $10k isn't hard for a faith group, using it to buy a bunch of turkeys is even easier, and it looks really good in the Parish Newsletter. But feeding those families all year is just no within their budget. The g

    • By this point, I think people generally understand that Healthcare.gov is to be avoided if at all possible. This system of systems is a monster (reportedly 500 million lines of code at 60-70% completion), and it's probably too big to test -- testing might take longer than it took to write, i.e., the QA death spiral.

      I fail to see what a large codebase has to do with end users using or not using it.

      The only reason to use the exchange is to get a subsidy. If you are a normal taxpayer who won't qualify f
      • I fail to see what a large codebase has to do with end users using or not using it.

        It isn't completely written yet, much less tested. In other words it doesn't, and with that large of code base in this state won't, work (see IRS).

        Why wouldn't somebody want to compare plans and prices available off-exchange with those in the exchange, exactly?

        They're incorrect plan and price quotes? They make you enter your vitals before you can compare? Just two reasons off the top of my head.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      I'm not sure this is the case. My understanding is that a lot of the broken forms came from earlier in October and November when the site was still very broken. I think this was a mistake, the only excuse I can think of for leaving the site online in that state was they were hoping to speed up the development through live testing, but it lead to a lot of bad data getting into the system and those people getting used as guinea pigs.

      But at this point the errors are largely fixed, I'm sure some still exist but

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @06:49AM (#45625749)
    Is this after correcting against how many would have errors if they were filed directly? I'm willing to bet that direct applications contain a similar number of inaccuracies, so what's the news here?
    • Re:Compared to what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by swb (14022) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @07:35AM (#45625861)

      I've only had to fill out paper health care forms a couple of times, but it's really easy to see how those confusing monsters can be filled out erroneously by the form filler, and then of course there are the transcription problems when forms get computer entered, either by drones in a coding center or by HR people.

      What's wrong with this in comparison though, is that when the end-user uses a web site you would assume there is error checking of form logic (ie, if I fill box A and B it should be able to tell if I need to fill out box C). There's still the problem of factual error by the user but that's harder to detect.

      The problem here though seems to be the data stored is erroneous due to problems with the code, not due to user error.

      • Keep in mind that in theory Healthcare.gov should be simpler then those monsters. This is because a) Healthcare.gov is not intended to be so confusing that people fuck it up (many "cheap" plans intentionally confuse people, take their premiums, and then throw them off as soon as they file a claim because the application was wrong), and b) it is not supposed to get any info from you except your age and address. The only other info it should need is income info, and in theory that's coming from the IRS.

        That'

  • Better them than me. Talk about an ugly technical job.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @09:12AM (#45626217) Journal
    The healthcare.gov website is being maligned more than it deserves to be. Buying healthcare is not going to be as easy as buying iTunes, or even booking hotels. Further it did not have the option of growing slowly with extensive beta period. How many years Gmail was in beta, don't we remember? Add to it the complexities of providing subsidy, that requires income verification, that requires ... And the majority of the users it targets are from the demographic that is least likely to be familiar with internet and least likely to be educated.

    We don't have to excuse them, we can demand they anticipate these things and provide for it. They seems to have an idea of these issues, with their plans to create a cadre of "navigators" to help people with internet access and web site help. But the plan and law was heavily politicized, 36 states refused to set up their own exchanges and dumped all of them on the federal exchange. Millions of people who would have gone to medicaid are dumped into exchanges because they refused to expand medicaid.

    No doubt there were self inflicted wounds. Politicians scared of people getting sticker shock, insisted on disabling the window shop and see full price option at roll out, That was the root cause of disaster. The first thing the "tech surge" did was to enable window shopping. It was enabled as early as Oct 15, I tested it then, They could not have done it that soon if it was fresh code. Window shopping was the original code, They just disabled the meddling by the politicians and went on the original code path.

    Still they are doing it in the right order. Get people to commit to a plan before the dead line. Errors on the back end can be sorted out when they actually file claims,

    • by Oligonicella (659917) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @09:52AM (#45626425)

      But the plan and law was heavily politicized

      Yes sir, it was. Remember "We'll have to pass the law to see what's in it"? After that, every excuse is moot.

      Half a billion dollars.

    • by khallow (566160)

      But the plan and law was heavily politicized, 36 states refused to set up their own exchanges and dumped all of them on the federal exchange. Millions of people who would have gone to medicaid are dumped into exchanges because they refused to expand medicaid.

      This is just a straightforward exercise of self-interest at the US state level. It's not the individual state's job to cover inadequacies in federal law or shoulder the costs for their implementation.

      Still they are doing it in the right order. Get people to commit to a plan before the dead line. Errors on the back end can be sorted out when they actually file claims,

      Can be != will be. It's worth noting here that filing a claim indicates that you will cost an insurance company money. If they then can find an error in your application that let's them selectively disqualify you after the fact, there would be considerable incentive to do so.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        No matter how flawed the law is, no matter how expensive it is going to be, no matter how many fumbles the administration makes, there is this huge hunger for healthcare by a very large section of America. Mostly poor, mostly concentrated on the Red states. Democrats are dangling this carrot in front of them. Republicans are squarely between this stampeding crowd and the carrot they are chasing.

        But don't despair, Democrats fumbled by not ramming down single payer or medicare for all, that would have been

        • by Bartles (1198017)
          How's that strategy working out for ya?
        • by khallow (566160)

          No matter how flawed the law is, no matter how expensive it is going to be, no matter how many fumbles the administration makes, there is this huge hunger for healthcare by a very large section of America.

          So what? No matter how much "hunger" is out there, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

          It is an historic anomaly that Church is aligned with the capitalists and not marxists. It will get corrected eventually.

          Your weird obsession with the "Church" is why you got modded "flamebait". There is no one Church. Nor is Christianity the only religion out there. And there are splinter sects of Christianity that do support some degree of Marxist tenets. That doesn't help Marxism perform any better. It also doesn't help that Marxism routinely perceives religion as a competitor to be ruthlessly stamped out.

          OTOH, capitalism just work

          • OTOH, capitalism just works and has done more to relieve poverty and build wealth than anything else out there.

            You are correct that capitalism has done more to relieve poverty. But the "winner take all, no regulation from the government" is feudalism, not capitalism. Capitalism will deliver the goods only when there is a strong government, strong enough to enforce contracts, strong enough to disrupt collusion and other anti-competitive behavior of the rich and powerful. The day government is weaker than the most powerful individual (or corporation) capitalistic system will degenerate into feudalistic system.

            • by khallow (566160)
              Well, why are you even concerned about this in the first place? The public's hunger for free lunch has ended up in the past creating authoritarian governments not corporate feudalism.
      • Still they are doing it in the right order. Get people to commit to a plan before the dead line. Errors on the back end can be sorted out when they actually file claims,

        Can be != will be. It's worth noting here that filing a claim indicates that you will cost an insurance company money. If they then can find an error in your application that let's them selectively disqualify you after the fact, there would be considerable incentive to do so.

        Two points:
        1) This is just wrong on a financial level. There's actually a mechanism so that insurers who pay out more claims due to insuring higher cost customers get paid from the guys who benefited from having low-cost customers.

        2) Healthcare.gov does not take any of your info but your age and address. They could dump you if you lie about which County you live in, but the whole "let's throw him off because he said he'd gotten the sniffles once and he'd gotten them twice" racket is now impossible.

        In other

        • by Bartles (1198017)
          Obviously you have not applied for enrollment. It asks for a hell of a lot more than age and address.
          • Was any of it medical? The site is supposed to ask for three things: your address (to find out which policies are available in your area), your age (because insurers can charge older people more), and a bunch of financial info (your current policy, income, options offered by your employer, current income, etc.) to determine whether you're eligible for tax subsidies. Khallow was talking about that fun thing insurers do where they demand a 15-page medical history, and then throw you off your insurance because

        • by khallow (566160)

          1) This is just wrong on a financial level. There's actually a mechanism so that insurers who pay out more claims due to insuring higher cost customers get paid from the guys who benefited from having low-cost customers.

          Seriously? If this really is true, then Obamacare is even worse than I expected. We really need built in incentives for insurance companies to make bad decisions.

          2) Healthcare.gov does not take any of your info but your age and address.

          And don't forget considerable financial information - which if materially wrong gives the insurer a pretext for cancellation of the insurance.

          • 1) This is just wrong on a financial level. There's actually a mechanism so that insurers who pay out more claims due to insuring higher cost customers get paid from the guys who benefited from having low-cost customers.

            Seriously? If this really is true, then Obamacare is even worse than I expected. We really need built in incentives for insurance companies to make bad decisions.

            You know why we need Obamacare? Because people seriously argue that they should be rewarded for picking an insurer who turns away chicks with the breast cancer gene with low low rates.

            2) Healthcare.gov does not take any of your info but your age and address.

            And don't forget considerable financial information - which if materially wrong gives the insurer a pretext for cancellation of the insurance.

            How's the insurer even gonna know you lied about the financials? And you do have to actually lie, because it is connected to the iRS database, so it'll remind you how much you actually made.

            If you do lie, you'll get in trouble, but it'll be with the Feds for tax fraud.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kesj (87284)

      According to the Boston Globe this morning, Massachusetts' (you know the state that was the model for the PPACA) Health Connector website has not enrolled a single person since it was revamped to support Obamacare at a cost of $69 million. The entire infrastructure to support the PPACA is apparently riddled with problems that impact not only healthcare.gov but the sites created by states that choose to implement their own. In Massachusetts, 100,000 people have been told their insurance which was in complian

    • Still they are doing it in the right order. Get people to commit to a plan before the dead line

      I think you've missed the point about having a 25% error rate. That means 25% of the people who used the exchange will have thought they selected a plan, but in reality, they didn't. They may think they have insurance, but don't.

      So, the correct order would be to do the backend first, which makes sure that people actually get insurance, then fix the pretty front end. Fixing the pretty front end first actually makes things worse because it increases the number of people who will be hurt by the errors.

    • It was Wrong for Gmail to be "in beta". It was a weasel word to get people like you to forgive the issues for no good reason. A beta program is one where you have a fixed small number of testers who use the software in exchange for giving you detailed feedback on remaining bugs and usability. It's not a label you should leave on the software once you have actual users who expect to use it in their day to day activities. Especially if you expect them to agree to an EULA before doing so.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      The healthcare.gov website is being maligned more than it deserves to be. Buying healthcare is not going to be as easy as buying iTunes, or even booking hotels.

      Actually, where I live buying health care is that easy. You can go online, get quotes, compare them and when you've picked one, buy it online with no more difficulty than buying a laptop from Dell. There are data mining operations that are thinly disguised as comparison web sites that will compare a bunch of generic quotes for health insurance if you're too lazy to figure it out for yourself.

      But then again I live in one of those evil nations that have universal health care as a minimum standard. If priva

  • Part of the 25% error rate is apparently the Feds double-sending a form. That's not a good thing, but it's not like the insurer can't do it's job just because it has two identical copies of one of your forms. If the forms are different, and include important info, the double-copies could be a huge problem, but the article doesn't give us any way to tell how many of these 25% error are actually errors vs. how many are conservatives in the insurance industry bitching that their guy got whipped in November of

  • by BringsApples (3418089) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @09:57AM (#45626455)
    I waited until the last minute because 'fuck the government' right? But when I did call, I got a really nice lady that walked me through the whole process in less than 30 minutes. They basically ask you the questions from the forms (the forms are also available to fill out yourself and mail in. Forms link [cms.gov], and instructions link [cms.gov])

    I have a family of 4 and we'll end up paying $74.00 per month for Blue Cross Silver plan. It's better than what I have right now through Blue Cross, and I've been paying $400 a month for it.
  • I was thinking of changing my Major Medical plan, because it is getting expensive. It has literally doubled in price in the last three years. I went to ehealthinsurance.com, which is where I normally shop for insurance. I found that the cheapest premium is about the same as I am paying now, meaning that insurance rates really have gone up by 100% in the last three years. Probably due to some sort of new legislation.
    Even worse, I was comparing if my plan started now. If I started a new plan in 2014, the low
    • In theory they don't have to put up with a $1,300 a month premium. That's $15,600 a year, which means that as long as they make less then $164k and change the premium is more then 9.5% of their income, which means they are supposed to buying plans on healthcare.gov. They'd even get the subsidy available to those making less then 400% of poverty-level.

      I suspect that in practice your company has another, cheap-ass shitty plan option that your lesser-paid coworkers are supposed to use.

      • 400% of FPL is about 90K for a family of 4. Unless you are someone with 20 kids the 400% FPL is much lower than that. Further the 9.8% will only buy you a median silver plan. Median silver plan is less than 10K a year even in Beverly Hills,CA 90210. (That is the zip code that came to my mind when I was testing the site)
  • Despite all the glitches, and blotched roll out, persistent technical difficulties, constant negative news from every source, there is still fundamental support for ACA. "Keep it or Expand it" even more people out number the "cut back or repeal" people.

    The root cause of the problem is that Republicans dominate very small states with very large percentage of poor people. For example South Carolina had about 150K people already eligible for medicaid but were unaware of it. Even though the Republicans refus

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 07, 2013 @10:57AM (#45626727)

      It is true the Republicans do have a job on their hands trying to raise votes by "not purchasing them with other peoples money".

      • Yes, Americans used to be very self reliant and eschew public assistance and it was considered to be a taboo to take in government assistance. You see, for the last 30 years both Republicans with ample aiding and abetting from the Democrats, have systematically transferred income and wealth from people who spend 90% to 100% of their income to people who save/invest 90% to 99% of their income.

        The result is too much of capital, and people have been cutting back on consumption. The "fix" we have been pushing

  • In hindsight, the biggest mistake Obama did was not doing the subsidy eligibility work before Oct 1. They could have rolled out the subsidy, income verification and identify verification etc way before Oct 1. They only thing that has to wait for Oct 1 was the actual plans, their prices and their provider directory. If they had done that they Oct 1 will simply be a window shopping comparison site. With eligibility certificate in hand, they would not be affected by the sticker shock. So the web site would hav
  • You'd have to be a complete doofus to use that site. Don't give your personal and private information to a site that has zero security.
  • We're just dying to try out version 2.0. Preferably 2.0.1 where they have the bugs worked out.

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