Insurance industry aware of Obamacare website problems before launch
October 23rd, 2013
07:43 PM ET
9 months ago

Insurance industry aware of Obamacare website problems before launch

(CNN) - The nation's top health insurers were well aware of the technical problems plaguing the application process on the Obamacare website prior to its October 1 launch, an industry insider told CNN.

"Yes. Of course we did," the source said in an e-mail.

The source said people involved in the creation of the on-line application feature of healthcare.gov that links consumers to insurers clearly downplayed the site's flaws.

That component is now the main source of frustration for potentially millions of Americans attempting to purchase insurance through the Obamacare site.

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"It’s clear the folks working on this in the administration gave a far rosier picture to people in the White House," the insider said. "No one wanted to go to the White House and say to the president that your signature legislative achievement may not go so well."

Officials with the nation's insurance plans were involved in the testing of the site, the industry source told CNN.

"As involved as you can be," the insider said. "Significant issues came up," the source added prior to the site's launch.

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The insurers are a key player in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as they are selling policies that are purchased on the site, then processing consumers' enrollment files.

Among the technical problems detected prior to October 1 were the "front-end issues," the source said, pointing to the trouble many consumers have had setting up accounts.

But the problems go further.

The source pointed to the enrollment files now being received by insurers that are sometimes incomplete, contain erroneous information, or arrive in duplicates.

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That puts the companies in the position of potentially rejecting enrollees due to errors that originated on the web site.

In the weeks since healthcare.gov's application feature went live, insurance companies have observed consumers are successfully signing up for coverage. But the insider could not put an exact count on enrollees.

"People are enrolling, yes," the source said.

Top industry executives visited the White House Wednesday to meet with top Obama administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to discuss the challenges in repairing health care.gov.

"That was part of reason for this meeting," the insider told CNN. "They wanted to hear from the CEO's themselves what is really happening and what needs to be done."

In an interview with CNN, Sebelius said Obama was unaware of the site's problems prior to its launch.

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White House officials have repeatedly cautioned they do not believe the President was intentionally left in the dark by HHS officials.

"We did not know until the problems manifested themselves after the launch that they would be as significant as they have turned out to be," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Of course the insurance companies are not going to do anything against themselves!

    October 23, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Evergreen

    So people are not filling out the forms completely or putting in wrong information. Yeah, must be the President's fault.

    October 23, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  3. bill

    And Mr Obama didn't something is wrong ....

    October 23, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Gee thanks , so we should have bought insurance on insurance companies .

    Officials with the nation's insurance plans were involved in the testing of the site.

    This is like asking AIG for help .

    October 24, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  5. A True Conservative

    And I'll bet that they were told to sit down and shut up......

    October 24, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  6. d

    seems like they wanna blame everyone but Obama

    October 24, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    Programme it in a better way. These computer problems can be easily fixed. Not a big deal. Bring from Indian bright programmers. They fix.

    October 24, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  8. Michael

    The contractors that were responsible for developing the web pages used for this MUST BE held accountable for most, if not all, of the failures. Load testing should have been early in the SDLC (Software Development Life Cyce). Automated testing the pages via a product such as LoadRunner should have been done early in the SDLC. Project Managers should have had the bolts to ensure a quality product was in place in Development before going to Unit Testing, then System Testing, User Acceptance and, finally, Production. The names of the companies involved and all individuals involved, should be made public so that they can't carry their bad coding and management into the workplace. I don't blame the Administration for this, per se, except for this: Where was the oversight?

    October 24, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  9. DarthTater

    That's right, CNN. Deflect from your chosen one. Don't mention how it turns out that the Republicans were right to want to delay the individual mandate...

    October 24, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  10. John Riley Goldsmith

    Now it is the fault of the insurance companies? Doesn't anything stick to this Teflon President who can't figure out how to fix the problems at the Veterans' Administration and now has the Obamacare conundrum on his hands.

    October 24, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  11. Colo001

    Is anyone really surprised? This isn't even the tip of the iceberg. Wait until people actually try to receive healthcare

    October 24, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  12. Jim

    They can't even get the website to work right, and we expect them to be able to manage the healthcare of the whole United States...... Laughable!!!!!!

    October 24, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |