December 13, 2013

Not News Outside Connecticut: Every Plan on State’s Obamacare Exchange Had Wrong Information for a Full Month

Searches on “Connecticut” at the Associated Press’s national site and at the Politico indicate that there’s plenty of news about the Nutmeg State which the two web sites believe merit national attention.

But somehow, the fact that the state’s Obamacare exchange, Access Health CT, “had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans” doesn’t merit attention. Further indicating the development’s national significance, as David Steinberg at PJ Media has noted, President Barack Obama himself cited Access Health CT as a success story in supposedly getting one-third of its enrollees from people who are 35 and younger (also not true) back on October 21. More verbiage from the story, as reported in the Hartford Courant by Fox Connecticut’s Louisa Moller, follows the jump:

Even Moller apppeared to be holding back in her analysis, as indicated in her headline and by the presence of the word “mixup” in the story’s URL (video at link; bolds are mine):

Misinformation Marred First Month Of State Health Website (“Misinformation”? How about “comprehensively wrong information”? — Ed.)

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More than 2,400 Connecticut customers who bought health plans on Access Health CT were given incorrect information about their insurance plans, in one case underestimating the maximum out-of-pocket by at least $4,000.

… Access Health CT would not say how the problem started, or who was responsible. The exchange did say that the problem was discovered in late September and was fixed by Oct. 30. (That is, it took them a whole month to fix the problem. — Ed.)

The exchange said a letter was mailed to 2,408 people who bought plans from the starting date of Oct. 1. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request Wednesday for the number of enrollees who changed their plans after receiving the letter.

Access Health CT said in its letter that benefits listed on the shopping screen were inaccurately described and in some cases incomplete. For example, it said, cost-sharing for out-of-network benefits should apply only after the deductible is met.

“Another was pharmacy tiers were not labeled appropriately,” Access Health CT spokesperson Kathleen Tallarita said in an email Wednesday. She emphasized that prices for the plans were not in error.

The website problem runs counter to a national narrative that Connecticut’s exchange has been held up as a model case for how the Affordable Care Act marketplaces should work. President Barack Obama singled out the plan as a positive example at an event at the White House Rose Garden in October.

Keith Stover, a lobbyist and spokesman for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, said he thinks the inaccuracies are troubling but not surprising given the complexities of a systemwide overhaul of the nation’s health system.

John Javaruski, a 62-year-old retired actuary from Farmington, said he received a letter dated Nov. 1 after he signed up for an Anthem plan with a $2,000 out-of-pocket maximum and zero deductible. According to the revised schedule of benefits attached to the letter, Javaruski’s plan jumped to $6,250 out of pocket and a $3,000 deductible.

I guarantee that if this happened in what used to the the relatively free market for health insurance, regulators would be considering the situation a lot more than “troubling” — and correctly so.

But I guess the operative principle at the AP and Politico, as well as in the rest of the nation’s establishment press, is “Don’t tell anyone else anything bad about the state Obamacare exchanges if you can avoid it.” How pathetic.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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