Obamacare tech chief Henry Chao testified today that up to 40 percent of IT systems required to support the federal exchange still must be built. Chao’s testimony was somewhat confusing, but I gather from his remarks and from reports about what HHS sources are saying that the unbuilt portions center around the financial management tool and, in particular, the mechanism for transmitting federal subsidies to insurers.
Apparently, this element may not be operational for two months. That’s well after the deadline for being enrolled in time to comply with the requirement of having coverage by January 1.
The irony here is hard to miss. The folks entitled to subsidies are the “winners” on the exchange. Their premiums are too high, like those of everyone else on the exchange, but they are due subsidies to offset their inflated premium payments.
But now it looks like these subsidies may not be paid to the insurer in time for coverage to kick in by the date folks are required to be covered. So those who like their new insurance plan may not get their new insurance plan, at least not in time.
This could produce some rude surprises. One insurance industry source told Politico that “people may think they are enrolled [but] they are not. They may show up at the doctor’s office and not be covered.”
I guess we can call these folks low information patients.
If this scenario comes to pass, it shouldn’t take many anecdotes to raise the Obamacare scandal to a new level.