Connect for Health CO: Exchange snafus trip up thousands

Exchange snafus trip up thousands as more cost overruns mount | Health News Colorado.

Amateur hour at Connect for Health Colorado:

A multi-million dollar IT system that Colorado officials promised would make signing up for health coverage simple has instead snagged thousands of customers and now will cost several hundred thousand dollars — if not millions — to fix.

Managers at Colorado’s health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, plan to ask their board members on Monday to approve an emergency infusion of $322,000 for the next month to try to help customers get coverage by the Feb. 15 deadline. No warranty covers the work that the additional money will fund, the exchange’s chief technology officers said on Friday.

So who EXACTLY IS the exchanges Chief Technology Officer? Inquiring minds want to know.

Other interesting factoids…

About half of the 21,000 people who bought private insurance through the end of December through the exchange have not qualified for tax subsidies. They can skip the problematic sign-in system if they don’t want to try to qualify for subsidies.

This is not exactly correct. I believe what they are trying to say is +/- 10,500 applicants elected to not try and get a monthly subsidy. They may still be eligible for premium assistance on their tax return. Also, here’s a HINT:

IF YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT YOU WILL NOT QUALIFY FOR PREMIUM ASSISTANCE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, THEN DO NOT APPLY THROUGH CONNECT FOR HEALTH COLORADO. SIGN UP DIRECTLY WITH THE CARRIER OF YOUR CHOICE. A BROKER CAN HELP WITH PLAN SELECTION AND APPLYING OR YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF.

Time out for a self serving advertisement: Oh, by the way…  if you’re in Colorado and need a broker, please contact me at 303.495.3045 (or text me at 303.859.1709)! The cost to you is the same as if you did it yourself. Moving on…

The big issue has been the Shared Eligibility System between Connect for Health and Medicaid.

Colorado officials were supposed to build the shared system in 2013 and failed to do so. Since then, Medicaid head Sue Birch repeatedly has promised she would build a simple, streamlined system that would be as easy to use as Kentucky’s much-hailed sign-up system, Kynect. Colorado officials informally said the system here would be like “Kentucky on steroids.”

Instead, the system is limping along, and Drews this week had to send an apology note to exchange partners that outlined more than two dozen “known and reported issues.” Click here to see Drews’ letter.

“We realized issues have been difficult and frustrating for many since the start of open enrollment, and they have hampered your ability to serve your customers,” Drews wrote. “While we don’t anticipate a perfect system when launching new technology and programs, we certainly had higher expectations than we’ve delivered.”

Exchange board members were furious Thursday, saying they felt cornered into approving additional spending without adequate advance notice.

“We’re being told there’s no time for suggestions. We have to have it done right away,” said Dr. Mike Fallon, a board member.

“These problems didn’t start today,” Fallon said. “It’s every issue: you approve it or the sky is falling.”

Enough with the faux outrange Dr. Fallon, certainly you have your own internal and external sources of information on how Connect for Health is performing? If not, you should resign from the Board of Directors.

A side note on Connect for Health enrollment propaganda statistics..

Exchange spokesmen routinely report “enrollment gains” by lumping renewals and Medicaid sign-ups with the new customers who sign up for private health insurance.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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