The company primarily responsible for operating Maryland's health insurance exchange has agreed to repay the state and federal government $45 million to settle claims that it mishandled its duties, the Maryland attorney general's office announced Tuesday.
To help ensure a smoother enrollment process this year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is working with state health insurance exchanges, especially ones that struggled amid technical difficulties last year, as well as Medicaid officials.
Thousands of consumers still lack proper health insurance coverage despite signing up for exchange plans during the open enrollment period and paying their premiums, reported the Wall Street Journal. That's due to problems with exchange enrollment systems and the slow, drawn-out response from federal and state officials, according to insurers.
Several states, including Maryland, Oregon and Massachusetts, suffered major technical difficulties with their health insurance exchanges and now must take actions to improve their websites before the next enrollment period. If they don't, insurers will likely continue to see low enrollment numbers in those states, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Even though the federal government has been able to resolve many problems with the troubled HealthCare.gov website the Obama administration is still considering other enrollment methods. In particular, the Obama administration is exploring whether insurers can directly enroll consumers themselves.
While admitting to flaws with the HealthCare.gov website, President Barack Obama pledged to resolve all the complications during a speech in Boston Wednesday. He also said the Massachusetts law, upon which he based his healthcare reform legislation, also struggled during the enrollment stage.
Given all the problems associated with the launch of the health insurance exchanges, it appears the Obama administration is adjusting the individual mandate. Such a decision could dramatically affect insurers because they would have to wait longer to boost their membership rolls.
Although the Obama administration has been working non-stop the last three weeks to fix the technical problems associated with the federal health insurance exchanges, new issues keep creeping up that prevent consumers from accessing the online marketplaces
Republican lawmakers said they will investigate the beleaguered rollout of the health insurance exchanges, starting with a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this week.
Aenta CEO Mark Bertolini thinks health insurance exchanges have "so much wrong" with them since enrollment opened that it could take up to three years to resolve the issues.