glitch goes unnoticed


A new glitch surfaced on Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer discovered. The site has been reporting incorrect poverty-level guidelines while automatically telling thousands of individuals they do not qualify for subsidized insurance.

The site's calculator provides an unofficial estimate of how much financial assistance consumers qualify for prior to beginning the overall enrollment process. The Inquirer found the site's calculator is using the wrong year's poverty guidelines, which has resulted in inaccurate guidance.

The error could possibly discourage individuals from signing up for coverage, the Fiscal Times reported. And in certain states that have not expanded Medicaid--such as Pennsylvania--the hiccup affects households with incomes just above the poverty line.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working to fix the newly-discovered problem, a spokesman told Fox News.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January bumped up the income guidelines to establish poverty level cutoffs, which will be relevant this fall when people look to buy coverage for 2015. Under these guidelines, Medicaid coverage is available to individuals earning up to $16,105 and families earning up to $32,913 in states that have decided to expand to Medicaid. The government said the increase in the federal poverty level was due to a 1.5 percent price increase between 2012-2013, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Many federal programs are using the new 2014 poverty levels to determine eligibility. The Affordable Care Act specified to use 2013 guidelines; however, is using the 2014 guidelines. Because Medicaid determines eligibility based on 2014 guidelines, people at the low end of poverty in those states would not have encountered the problem, the Inquirer noted.

This is not the exchange website's first pricing glitch. Back in September 2013, the software did not accurately determine how much consumers would pay for coverage.

To learn more:
- here's The Philadelphia Inquirer article
- here's the Fox News coverage
- read the Fiscal Times article

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