Data discrepancies in healthcare signups could affect coverage for 2.1 million people, the Associated Press is reporting, relying on an internal government presentation. That means one in four Americans who signed up for health insurance online may find their coverage isn't quite what they thought it was.
The data problems involve income reporting as well as citizenship and immigration status, the AP says, and may mean that some people were wrongly granted subsidies. The law actually anticipated there would be problems with verifying eligibility, allotting a 90-day period to resolve any discrepancies. About 40 percent of the signups in question are past that deadline, however.
The Health and Human Services Department denied to Buzzfeed that the data problems will "jeopardize" coverage, and a department spokesperson told the AP that the "vast majority" of cases will work out in consumers' favor. "The typical family of four generated 21 separate pieces of information that required verification, and all were attested to under penalty of perjury," the agency said in a blog post today.
The government just needs to verify some information
Healthcare.gov, the federal website where people could shop for health insurance, and its state counterparts have been plagued by technical issues. It's unclear to what extent the technical glitches contributed to the data integrity issues, as discrepancies may also be due to mistakes or dishonesty.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Department agency in charge of the health insurance marketplaces, sent this statement:
"We are working with consumers every day to make sure individuals and families get the tax credits and coverage they deserve and that no one receives a benefit they shouldn't. Two million consumers are not at risk of losing coverage — they simply need to work with us in good faith to provide additional information that supports their application for coverage and we are working through these cases expeditiously."The agency also pointed out that this issue was reported last month by The Washington Post and that The New Republic called it "(probably) no big deal."
Consumers will get to keep their coverage while their data is being investigated, according to a blog post on Healthcare.gov.