Software Problem Could Affect Obamacare Exchanges

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 11:49 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Software behind the Obamacare online insurance exchanges can't give consumers reliable pricing information, putting the Oct. 1 launch of the healthcare program in doubt.

Government officials and insurers are working to fix the problem so that early enrollees are not put off, according to The Wall Street Journal,

"There's a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly," one senior health-insurance executive, who asked not to be named, told the Journal. "Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they're seeing and the potential of them to stick around."

The administration, meanwhile, says the system will be ready in time for the launch in less than two weeks.

"We continue working with [insurers] and we are confident that on Oct. 1, consumers will see accurate premium costs, including tax credits," Brian Cook, a Medicare spokesman, told the newspaper.

If the software bugs are not fixed in time for the launch, customers will still be able to register offline. But any problems involved in the roll-out of the program could become a political liability for the administration, whose critics have long warned of a disorderly implementation.

The online insurance-exchange marketplaces are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. They will be fully or partially operated by the federal government in 36 states.

The remaining 14 states will run their own marketplaces using their own programs.

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