Online Health Exchanges Plagued by Pricing Glitch

Obamacare officials 'scrambling' with less than two weeks until rollout

AP

With less than two weeks to go until the open enrollment period for the Obamacare health exchanges begins, the government's software still cannot display reliable insurance quotes for consumers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The problem is causing Obamacare and insurance officials to "scramble" behind the scenes for fear of "alienating" the initial wave of customers:

Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government's software can't reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.

Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly, according to the people, to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumers.

A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the "exchanges" is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation.

If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction of them are expected to sign up in the next year.

The insurance exchange problems are in keeping with a June GAO report that warned much of Obamacare implementation "remains to be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time."

The pricing glitch is restricted to online exchanges and is not expected to impact in person enrollment, according to the report.