After days of stiff-arming reporters about errors on enrollment forms going to health insurance companies, federal officials said today that in October and November as many as 25 percent of those forms had data errors, and that those errors have now been reduced to 10 percent.
“We are very focused on our work to address and resolve issues surrounding 834 transaction forms,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
After refusing to give any data for days, Bataille on Friday acknowledged that as many as one out of every four of the 834 forms generated when someone signed up for coverage on the healthcare.gov website had mistakes in October and November – but now it is down 10 one of every ten.
“This analysis is preliminary and not final,” said Bataille, as she told reporters there is an “intense” effort inside the Obama Administration to fix the errors on every enrollment form that’s gone to a health insurance company.
“We have to very methodically and precisely go through individual transactions at a very granular level directly with issuers in order to reconcile the information,” Bataille said.
The report of a past error rate of 25% and a current rate of 10% was quickly mocked by Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“What does CMS consider an acceptable error rate on not screwing up enrollment data?” asked Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner.
The issue is part of what Republicans have described as a possible “coverage gap” – where people sign up for health insurance, but then find out in January that they really don’t have coverage because of internal issues at healthcare.gov.
All week, officials have urged consumers to call the insurance company that they signed up with, in a sense to confirm that they do have coverage – and that was part of today’s conference call as well.
“I would remind you that there are a number of steps that consumers need to take directly to confirm their enrollment,” Bataille said, first listing the move of paying their insurance premium.
Meanwhile, Republicans on a House committee today released emails that showed federal officials had concluded back in August that delays were needed in the small business health insurance – but that word wasn’t relayed to Congress or the public until just before the October 1 rollout of healthcare.gov.
You can read the emails at the website of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.