Now application ‘inconsistencies’ vex health law
WASHINGTON – A huge new paperwork headache for the government could also be jeopardizing coverage for some of the millions of people who just got health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law.
A government document provided to The Associated Press indicates that at least 2 million people enrolled for taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance have data discrepancies in their applications that, if unresolved, could affect what they pay for coverage, or even their legal right to benefits.
The final number affected could well be higher. According to the administration the 2 million figure reflects only consumers who signed up through the federally administered HealthCare.gov website and call centers. The government signed up about 5.4 million people, while state-run websites signed up another 2.6 million.
For consumers, a discrepancy means that the information they supplied, subject to perjury laws, does not match what the government has on record.
For example, someone who underestimated his income, and got too generous a subsidy as a result, could owe the Internal Revenue Service money next year.
The seven-page slide presentation from the Health and Human Services Department was provided to AP as several congressional committees investigate the discrepancies. Most of the data conflicts involve important details on income, citizenship and immigration status – which affect eligibility and subsidies.
Ensuring that health care benefits are delivered accurately is a priority for HHS nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whose confirmation as department secretary is before the Senate this week.