Experts Predict Initial ‘Glitches’ in Health Plan Exchange Websites
Technology experts say they expect some initial "glitches" when the health insurance exchange websites being created under the Affordable Care Act open for enrollment on Oct. 1, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Under the ACA, states by January 2014 must create online health insurance exchanges to provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.
Details of Expected Glitches
Dan Schuyler -- a director at the consulting firm Leavitt Partners and former director of technology for Utah's health insurance exchange -- said, "Something will be up and running by Oct. 1," when enrollment opens. However, he added, "It will be full of issues, bugs and technological challenges."
Scott Keefer, vice president at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said officials will have "a very limited window for testing and working out some of the kinks."
Building the online marketplaces is a complex task because the websites must communicate and interface with:
- The Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. government databases to verify that consumers are U.S. citizens or legal residents;
- State Medicaid systems; and
- Dozens of insurers.
David Blumenthal -- president of the Commonwealth Fund and former National Coordinator for Health IT -- said, "I think it's a big vulnerability," adding, "You have to get systems at the federal level talking to each other that never have."
Meanwhile, the timeframe also has proved challenging for many developers.
For example, Jim Wadleigh -- CIO of Connecticut's health insurance exchange, called Access Health CT -- said recent changes by the federal government, including shortening the length of the consumer application, have stalled progress as programmers have had to redesign parts of the websites.
Bruce Caswell -- president and general manager of health services at Maximus, which is involved in building Minnesota's and Maryland's exchanges -- predicted that some individuals will be able to apply online when the exchange websites launch, but those with more "complicated" family situations might need to be enrolled manually (Corbett Dooren, Wall Street Journal, 6/6).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.