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December 14, 2013 1:23 PM More troubles for HealthCare.gov

By Kathleen Geier

Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff is reporting yet another serious problem with the troubled HealthCare.gov site. The site failed to transmit data from enrollees to health insurers. As a result, thousands of people who believed they’d completed enrollment for health insurance haven’t actually done so. In many cases, neither the enrollee nor the insurance carrier appeared to be aware of the problem.

Administration officials emphasize that, since the beginning of this month, “fewer than 1 percent of HealthCare.gov enrollments did not make their way to health insurance plans.” They also say the error rate has been rapidly declining.

Still, it’s clear that it’s going to take some time for the website to start functioning properly, so we’re likely to continue hearing similar reports. The website issues, combined with stories like this one about New York professionals whose policies were cancelled, are worrying. In the end, I believe the ACA will work, and I don’t doubt that it has already saved lives. But the successes of the program — such as its Medicaid expansion — have been undercovered in the media.

I’m not so much worried about how negative stories about the ACA will impact the 2014 elections. I think the number of winners under ACA (people who had been shut of the health insurance market who are now covered, and people who will have better, more affordable plans) greatly outnumber the losers (those who have to switch to a more expensive plan or risk losing access to preferred doctors and hospitals). But I do worry that the continuing stream of negative stories might undermine support for the ACA in states like Kansas and Florida, where state lawmakers are blocking plans to expand Medicaid. That would be deeply disturbing. But there’s no question that the last couple of months have given ACA opponents plenty of ammunition in their heroic crusade to protect Americans from the tyranny of universal, affordable health care.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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