By Akash Chougule
In what should come as a surprise to no one, yet another problem arose this week with President Obama’s infamous health care law. The Associated Press reports that of the 5.4 million people who signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace, 2 million submitted information that does not match up with federal data. The discrepancies could affect how much people pay for coverage, or whether they are even legally entitled at all. The problems come as the back end of Healthcare.gov remains dysfunctional – leaving the fix to a foreign contractor already under investigation.
The data mismatches include pieces like income, job status, and even citizenship. If people intentionally misstated information, they could be charged with perjury. Only citizens and legal immigrants are eligible under the law for subsidized coverage – thus if they are not in the country legally, then they were not entitled to a subsidy at all. As for income, the government used information from 2012, the latest IRS data available, which obviously could have changed within the past two years. Now, people may be required to pay money back to the IRS if they received too generous of a taxpayer-funded subsidy, and taxpayers could have been funding health care for people who were not eligible to receive subsidies at all.
Several media outlets foresaw this issue, as they reported weeks ago that the back end of Healthcare.gov remained dysfunctional, despite the White House’s attempt to dispel concern by fixing the front end used by consumers after the disastrous rollout last fall. As Americans for Prosperity reported in the Washington Times early last month, “the website was originally intended to function automatically, calculating premium subsidies, making government payments, and tracking enrollment information that would affect future costs.” But the interim system currently in place (that resulted in the newly revealed data discrepancies) is “pretty much a spreadsheet and some informed estimates,” according to Politico.
Perhaps worse yet is who will be left to problem solve – an infamous company called Serco. Serco was awarded a $1.2 billion contract to process Obamacare’s paper applications, and the AP reports they will be tasked with resolving these application issues. But as numerous reports from around the world have detailed, Serco is a shady foreign company riddled with a history of transgressions – most recently that Obamacare contractors were literally being paid to do nothing.
Furthermore, it is worth nothing that the total number of discrepancies could be well over 2 million. The 2 million are only from those people who enrolled through the federal exchange, and do not include the 2.6 million who signed up through state exchanges, which may be riddled with problems of their own.
The data discrepancy reports are just the latest in a seemingly unending list of problems with Obamacare, and come less than a week after Roll Call reported that almost 3 million Medicaid enrollees have not had their applications processed. Of course, these issues are all separate from Obamacare’s cancelled plans, lost doctors, and higher premiums.
Between Obamacare, Medicaid, and the scandal with the Veterans’ Affairs health care system, the Obama Administration is making it clear that government-run health care is a nightmare that is only becoming more frightening every day.