Several errors has plagued The Washington State Healthcare Exchange, creating doubt about the feasibility of having an online Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE).
The Affordable Care Act aimed to establish state-by-state marketplaces where standardized affordable insurance policies might be sold. The prospect of having an operable
HIE has proven to be a difficult online process for both the federal government and the 16 states which have decided to go out on their own.
The website crashed minutes after the second open enrollment began on Saturday, Nov. 14 similar to it crashing last year in October. In this second effort to have open enrollment, the cause of the problem was an error in tax credit calculations, on which state officials and software engineers were quick to pounce. This was the same issue that created problems during last year’s open enrollment.
The state’s computers were hooked up with the federal data hub at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to compute eligibility for the tax credits. However, Washington submitted monthly income information, but the federal government was expecting annual income information. This resulted in errors during calculations. The system was projected to come back up on Sunday but was in fact operational within hours.
According to a statement on the by CEO Richard Onizuka on the exchange website, less than 800 customers had their eligibility determined incorrectly and less than 150 customers scheduled payments.
Since open enrollment began last year, the miscalculations created by the tax credit errors have forced those who enrolled during that time to make retroactive payments. The payments calculated gave the applicants a false impression about the amounts, which were lower than would have been calculated if the system had been working properly.
According to an article in The Denver Post, about a thousand people who bought insurance the first time around are still having issues with payment. All told, those who qualify for Medicaid and those who do not qualify for tax credits were not affected by the system’s issues.
In addition, an error was identified on Dec. 6 in the Washington Healthplanfinder marketplace. The system’s integrator, Deloitte, accidentally cancelled the enrollment and payment of 6,000 customers. Onizuka apologized in a statement released on the exchange’s website and advised customers to re-submit payment, as previous payments will not be deducted from their accounts.
The statement also said that “the Exchange Board approved a motion to conduct a full review of the code and architecture behind the Washington Healthplanfinder marketplace.”