Continuing from the first part of the series, we bring you the next five highlights of Obamacare that have had a major impact. If you haven’t read the first part of our series, click here .
From late November to December 2013, a lot happened on the Obamacare front. There have been several improvements and fixes, but the administration is still struggling with a variety of errors and problems. We bring you the highlights six through ten that were the talk of Americans, administration, and health insurance industry experts from the last quarter in 2013.
6. Tech Surge – The name given to the administration’s technical error eradication spree, the ‘tech surge’ involved reworking/fixing backend functionality, bugs, system availability and more. The tech surge brought relief to the administration by resolving a lot of technical errors and improving system availability to healthcare.gov. The tech surge was handled by some of the top software industry stalwarts and served its purpose while battling criticism.
7. Canceled policies – Among all the confusion and a failing marketplace, the canceled policies mess was another nail in the coffin. Despite President Obama’s reassurances to the contrary, the month of November brought cancelation notices to people whose current, in force policies did not meet the standards set by ACA. The administration offered to let people keep their canceled policies, but the state regulatory authorities and health plans did not meet this suggestion with enthusiasm. While a mandate was issued in the last week of December, the response was not all that great.
8. Website Bug Fixes – Due to the tech surge and constant effort by the administration, the website saw major improvement in this period. The majority of bugs were gone, the site was easier to navigate and people could actually enroll in the system. By the end of November, the enrollment numbers were about 137,000, still way off the mark. However, after all the effort, the website isn’t completely fixed, and there is still a lot of room for improvement. For instance, the back-end error rate is still quite high, substantial enough to cause a major gap in the information available with health plans and administration. Although the government is planning to implement a data reconciliation activity that will resolve these issues, it is still in the pipeline. In the months to come, it is expected that the remaining marketplace bugs will be fully weeded out.
9. Better Enrollments – With everything happening around the Federally Facilitated Marketplace, it is evident that the enrollment numbers did improve. While improvements were substantial, the gap in expected enrollment numbers spoiled the celebration. Enrollments did pick up in December with over 975,000 enrolling – bringing enrollment to over 1.1 million.
10. Mandate Changes – In this period, there have been a couple of major mandate changes, which are going to have a lasting impact on the implementation of health reform in 2014. For instance, to tackle the canceled policies mess, the administration has released two sets of mandates. One of these allows people with canceled policies to be exempt from the individual mandate and the tax penalties they attract, should they be uncovered. At the same time, you are eligible for a Catastrophic Plan that has a high deductible. On the other hand, if you did not get a cancellation notice in this period, no special measures are applicable for you. Needless to say, the impact of these mandate changes will play out to its full potential in 2014.
The period after October 1 is having a major impact on the way PPACA health reform is shaping the health insurance industry. The first quarter of 2014 will consolidate all these changes and define the future of Obamacare and its health insurance marketplaces. Are you ready?