Shocker: Obamacare exchanges not properly checking eligibility

The Washington Post reports that “the new health insurance marketplaces run by the federal government and some states are not checking carefully enough that Americans who apply for health plans qualify for the coverage and federal subsidies to help pay for it, according to federal investigators.”

Is this evidence of incompetence and/or lack of resources? Perhaps. But you could also argue that the marketplaces are running essentially as they were intended to, since the primary goal of Obamacare is to provide subsidized health insurance to as many people as possible. And after the botched rollout, the urgency of mass enrollment increased because the White House needed respectable numbers.

Whatever the reason, the inadequacy of the checking seems incontrovertible. It is established by two reports from the Inspector General of the Department of HHS.

According to the first report, internal controls for evaluating applications have not always been effective at verifying people’s Social Security numbers, their citizenship, and whether they are eligible to buy health plans through the marketplaces because they cannot find affordable insurance elsewhere. These are just the problems Republicans warned of.

The second report helps quantify the problems. It found that by the end of last year, still the early days of the exchanges, the federal marketplace alone had 2.9 million “inconsistencies” between the information applicants provided and various federal records. Moreover, 2.6 million of the inconsistencies could not be resolved because the computer system needed to do so “was not fully operational.”

What were the “inconsistencies?” Most of them pertained to applicant income and applicant citizenship. These matters, of course, go directly to the issues of eligibility for coverage and eligibility for subsidies.

Who benefits? Mostly members and potential members of the Democratic base.

Don’t expect significant progress in correctly resolving the “inconsistencies” any time soon.

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