Industry bellwether UnitedHealth Group projects 2014 health plan profits to fall about 15% in 2014 while earnings from the company’s Optum healthcare technology and services division soar. Is this the future for health plans as reform takes a big bite out of industry profits? Not so fast. United says that after the initial hit from reform cycles through, health plan profits will accelerate through 2018 and could double over the next seven to 10 years.
From the Washington Post:
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.
The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies.
The new management system and instrumentation have helped improve site stability, lower the error rating below 1%, increase capacity to allow 50,000 concurrent users to simultaneously use the site and will help drive continuous improvement on the site. While we strive to innovate and improve our outreach and systems for reaching consumers, we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.
That’s what CMS deputy chief information officer said in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to a report in the New York Times. Still to be built are back-office systems, the Times reported, including the financial systems that will allow the exchange to pay health plays for coverage provided to members.
That’s the bad news. The good news (cue gallows humor) is that so few people have been able to sign up for coverage, there aren’t many payments to process.
From the New York Times:
Ms. Sebelius said last month that the security of the federal website had been tested by the Mitre Corporation and that the company “did not raise flags about going ahead” on Oct. 1.
But Jason Providakes, a senior vice president at Mitre, said at the hearing on Tuesday: “Mitre is not in charge of security for HealthCare.gov. We were not asked, nor did we perform, end-to-end security testing. We have no view on the overall safety or security status of HealthCare.gov.”
O.K., that can’t be good.
On MSNBC addressing the state’s early success with its insurance exchange:
“We made a decision early on to actively implement this law and try to make sure that residents could use it. So we hired a top-notch administrator to run the program. We got the website up and running early. We set up storefronts that are open so that people can come in off the street….
“And guess what?…Connecticut is way ahead of our initial enrollment estimates. We’ve signed up about 15% of the people that we want to sign up over the entire scope of the program. And it’s not a coincidence that when you don’t undermine the law–when you actually try to make it work–the product sells.
“The question is on the states that use the federal exchange. Once the technology is up to snuff, are people going to buy the product? And I think the answer to that is unequivocally yes, because when you can access it in places like California, Kentucky and Connecticut, people are buying it.
“And over in Connecticut, some of the people who’ve had their policies cancelled and were legitimately angry about that are coming in and finding out that they have a lot more affordable options.”