Computer Glitch at Covered California Sending Multiple, Conflicting Messages

A “small subset” of applicants to Covered California has been deluged with multiple notices, as many as 20 different letters — some of them with conflicting eligibility information, exchange officials said.

Some Covered California applicants also have received eligibility determination letters that make no sense, said Elizabeth Landsberg, director of legislative advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. 

“A family of four got a notice last month, and even though they’re all in the same tax household, they were given four different responses — and almost none of them, frankly, make much sense,” Landsberg said.

The four separate eligibility responses came in one letter — to two parents and two children in the same household. It included one denial of eligibility for several types of insurance through Covered California because, it said, the applicant wasn’t eligible for Medi-Cal.

That is confusing and just plain wrong, Landsberg said, since being ineligible for Medi-Cal would not be a reason why anyone would be ineligible for Covered California.

“This is just bizarre and disturbing,” Landsberg said. “Beyond the fact that the language is really confusing, this is incorrect.”

A more common problem with notices, she said, is that some people are getting a dozen or more of them. Covered California officials say they’re trying to fix the computer-related problems.

“We are aware of it and we’re working on a fix,” said James Scullary, information officer for Covered California.

“We believe it’s a small portion of applicants,” he said. “Those mixed families who have eligibility in both Covered California and Medi-Cal seem to be impacted more.”

The income threshold for children is lower than it is for adults in Medi-Cal, so there are some parents in Covered California who have children eligible for Medi-Cal.

Scullary did not have a timetable for when the computer glitch could be fixed.

“This is a problem — that people are getting multiple notices that contradict each other. We’ve talked to Covered California and they’re aware of it, but we do have to find a way to get this fixed,” Landsberg said.

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