CMS: Enrollment Data Error Rates Reduced to Nearly Zero
On Saturday, CMS officials announced that the agency had reduced the error rate for the enrollment data it sends to insurers, the New York Times reports.
The Obama administration has been working to address problems with electronic documents -- known as 834 forms -- sent to insurers nightly with information on new enrollees. In some cases, consumers had selected a health plan on HealthCare.gov, but the insurer was never notified. Insurers also have reported cases in which they received duplicate information, information that was meant to go to an insurer in a different state or inaccurate data, such as a man's daughter being listed as his wife.
In a blog post, CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille wrote that the error rate for the 834 forms "has been close to zero" since Dec. 1, down from 15% in October and mid-November, when enrollment reports on some consumers "were either not being generated or had errors due to larger technical system issues" (Pear, New York Times, 12/14). She wrote, "These significant improvements are due to the technical fixes put in place by the end of November" (Berman, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/14).
However, insurers say the administration is overstating the improvements. Insurers say they have identified new problems within the last few days, while issues that previously had been reported to CMS' help desk remain unresolved. For example, insurers said they have received files in which the home address for a new enrollee was outside the insurer's service area, as well as cases where the children were listed as the policyholder and the parents were listed as dependents (New York Times, 12/14).
15K Enrollment Reports Missing, CMS Says
Despite the improvements, Bataille noted that nearly 15,000 enrollment reports were not sent to insurers during the website's peak error rate, Reuters reports (Felsenthal, Reuters, 12/14).
According to the Washington Post's "Wonkblog," that figure comes from a recent federal analysis that compared the number of consumers who clicked the enroll button with the number of 834 forms the website sent to insurers. The analysis did not include a list of specific consumers whose information was never sent (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 12/14).
Bataille wrote, "To make sure that no consumer falls through the cracks because of earlier pervasive troubles with the site, we are contacting every consumer who has selected a plan through [HealthCare.gov] to remind them to pay their premium and connect with their insurer," adding, "We are double- and triple-checking all enrollment data across systems" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/14).
According to the Times, the administration last week sent insurers a list of every individual who had enrolled in a plan through HealthCare.gov, which insurers will need to compare with their own records (New York Times, 12/14).
House Democrats Say HealthCare.gov Is Secure
In related news, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday released a memo saying there have been no successful security attacks on the federal exchange website, CQ Roll Call reports.
The memo -- which was released by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) -- highlighted the non-classified information the committee received in a Wednesday briefing from HHS Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Charest and HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration Ned Holland.
According to the memo, HealthCare.gov has experienced 32 information security incidents, of which:
- 15 involved a person accidentally gaining access to unauthorized information;
- 11 are still under investigation;
- Three have been classified as non-incidents;
- Two were classified as "inappropriate usage" of computing use policies, including a denial-of-service attack made using malware called "Destroy Obamacare"; and
- One was an unsuccessful attempt to examine or scan the system.
The memo states, "None of these events involved a significant breach of personal information. All the known glitches that caused these incidents have been fixed."
The memo also notes that HHS officials said they are monitoring the system around the clock and are conducting ongoing assessments to strengthen the website's security (Ethridge, CQ Roll Call, 12/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.