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Lead Florida Obamacare Navigator Gives Bad Advice on Credit Score Requirement

UPDATE: Packham retracts earlier claim that Floridians needed to provide credit score to apply for Obamacare, attributes mistake to 'human error'

• October 9, 2013 10:50 am

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Lead Florida Obamacare Navigator Anne Packham has retracted earlier claims that Floridians must provide their credit score to apply for health insurance, WKMG reports:

A day after telling Local 6 that anyone signing up for the Affordable Care Act had to provide their credit score, the lead navigator in Florida said she was wrong.

Anne Packham, one of many people licensed by the state to help people navigate the government's website, said on Tuesday that the credit check was put in place so providers can make an educated decision about who to insure.

After receiving numerous emails about the story, Local 6 contacted Packham on Wednesday, and she said her statement was incorrect, adding that users do not need their credit scores to apply for the Affordable Care Act.

Local 6 is investigating how the person in charge of providing information about the Affordable Care Act could make such an error.

The embarrassing flap raises further serious questions about the capability of Obamacare navigators to provide accurate and trustworthy information about healthcare reform.

The "navigators" have access to sensitive personal data such as social security numbers and income, raising privacy concerns.

On Tuesday, Packham incorrectly told WKMG that applicants must provide their credit score to apply for Obamacare:

Many people signing up for health care in Florida through the Affordable Care Act have been shocked when they have to give proof of their credit score before they finish the process.

Anne Packham, one of many people licensed by the state to help people navigate the government's website, said on Tuesday that the credit check occurs so providers can make an educated decision about who to insure.

Participants with low credit scores could end up paying higher premiums, according to Packham, who said that ultimately the insurance company makes the call.

It is unclear if any individuals have unnecessarily provided their credit score to Ms. Packham or other navigators in Florida.

UPDATE October 10 9:30 AM EST:

In a follow up interview with WKMG on Wednesday, Packham attributed her gross misunderstanding of Obamacare application requirements to "human error" and refused to say specifically how she concocted such a detailed and blatantly false explanation:

A day after saying that anyone signing up for the Affordable Care Act had to provide their credit score, the lead Navigator admitted that she had been providing factually incorrect information to the public.

[…]

Local 6 confronted Packham on Wednesday and asked her, "How does someone in your position get that wrong?"

"So I misspoke yesterday," she said. "I realize I made a mistake."

The topic of credit reports came up because some users are being asked during the enrollment process to link to a company called Experian to verify their identities, the HHS said.

Experian is a major provider of credit reports, but HHS says it is only using Experian’s services to verify identities and they say credit scores are not checked.

Packham wouldn’t say how she came up with such a detailed – and completely wrong – explanation for the question about credit checks.

Local 6 asked Packham, "People just want to know. You've been through training. You are educating people about the process. How does this happen?"

"It's human error," Packham said.

The case in Florida seems to substantiate concerns expressed by insurance agents nationwide about the qualifications of part-time Obamacare navigators acting as health insurance advisors:

Published under: Obamacare