U.S.

Data Problems Affect 2 Million Obamacare Sign-Ups

Discrepancies between healthcare enrollment forms and government records could jeopardize coverage for thousands of people.

Data Problems Affect 2 Million Obamacare Sign-Ups
Healthcare.gov

More than 7 million people have purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but more than a third of those might be at risk of losing their coverage because of data problems. (Via The White House)

"A government document provided to the Associated Press reports more than 2 million people who got health insurance through the Affordable Care Act have some sort of discrepancy." (Via NewsChannel 8)

Basically, when people signed up, the government asked them for information like income and citizenship status to figure out if they qualified for subsidies. (Via The White House)

And it gave customers the benefit of the doubt, granting those subsidies regardless of whether the information they gave matched government records. Now, the government is trying to reconcile the discrepancies and has sent out letters asking people for more information.

The Department of Health and Human Services says this wasn't unexpected, calling the follow-up "due diligence."

 

"‚ÄčA consumer might have recently changed jobs, but the latest IRS tax return data ... didn't reflect that change in income. In such cases, the law requires us to double and triple check this data."

But The Washington Post, which reported an early version of the story last month, says, "The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve." Those people might be asked to pay the government back or risk losing their coverage.

The New Republic, which helped break the story, says that's not likely to be a widespread problem, though. So far the government says in the vast majority of these cases, the new information doesn't make a difference.

 

"For the most part, officials say, the money is going to the right people, and in the right amounts."

You might expect some conservative crowing over an Obamacare problem like this, but so far it's been fairly muted. Still, a health insurance analyst tells CNBC this shows the government's health care website continues to struggle with processing enrollments.

"The government has no means to reconcile these numbers right now because that part of the back end of Healthcare.gov hasn't been built yet."

Government officials say they're continuing the work on getting up-to-date data and hope to be finished by the end of summer.