Thousands Who Enrolled in Obamacare Still Without Coverage

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 07:24 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Thousands of Americans who signed up for Obamacare by the March deadline continue to be without health insurance coverage due to backlogs and technical problems with enrollment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In some states with state-run marketplaces, such as Massachusetts, California, and Nevada, consumers enrolled and paid for insurance plans but have since discovered they are not insured.

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Others have waited for changes to their coverage after giving notice of "life events," such as marriage, pregnancy, and child birth, but have been unable to get the necessary changes processed to reflect their new status, effectively leaving them without coverage for their new circumstances.

The situation has caused some to delay seeking medical treatment, while others have been forced to pay out of pocket for medical needs that should have been covered under their insurance, the Journal reported.

In Nevada, 150 consumers affected by the delays have filed a class-action lawsuit against the state-run exchange and Xerox Corp., which helped design the marketplace. According to the lawsuit, thousands continue to be uninsured despite filing complete applications and paying their premiums.

In one case, a plaintiff who signed up in October for coverage, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and scheduled for surgery. But after being told she was not covered, her surgery was delayed for two months until enrollment and payment were verified, causing her health to deteriorate further and contributing to her death several months later, the Journal reported.

"This is a deeply tragic situation," Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Journal. The agency is investigating a number of operational issues in state-based marketplaces.

"We are absolutely committed to continuing our work with states, including Nevada, to help resolve outstanding technological issues in an effort to ensure that consumers get the coverage they need and cases are resolved," Albright added.

While there are no figures to indicate the total number of people throughout the country being affected, a number of other states have released figures revealing similar problems.

In Minnesota and Oregon, for example, a total of 13,700 people have been unable to get their health coverage updated after giving notification of a life event.

In Massachusetts, one consumer discovered that his newborn had been without coverage for two months.

Thomas Croswell, president of Tufts Health Plan in Watertown, Massachusetts, said there were delays in getting information from the state exchange because the exchange had a  backlog in applications and updates. Croswell told the Journal the delays have now been resolved.

Jason Lefferts, a spokesman for the Massachusetts marketplace, told the Journal that due to computer issues and "functionality not delivered on a timely basis by our systems integrator, members have not been able to easily make updates to their accounts. When we become aware of these situations, we work to complete changes as quickly as possible."

The Obama administration said in April that roughly 8 million people signed up for health insurance coverage under the new federal healthcare law using the online exchanges

Health insurance executives told the Journal that those who bought plans through state-run exchanges tended to be more affected by the problems than plans not purchased under Obamacare.

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