Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as millions of people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not. They are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.
The government says the problem is real but under control. Officials say the total number of problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers currently stands at about 13,000. That includes orphan records. More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.CNN Money reports on people who lost their policies but cannot afford new ones on the exchanges.
Insurers, however, are less enthusiastic about the pace of the fixes. The companies also are seeing cases in which the government has assigned the same identification number to more than one person, as well as so-called "ghost" files in which the insurer has an enrollment record but the government does not.
Realizing the public relations nightmare of having insured people lose their coverage because of health reform, the Obama administration took many steps to try to address their problems.
To deal with the millions who received termination letters, it allowed insurers to renew these policies for another year. But state insurance regulators needed to agree to this extension and not all did.
It also expanded the options for buying catastrophic plans, previously available only to those under age 30 and those who qualify for a hardship exemption. And it set up a special help line for these folks, though it only received 2,400 calls, the administration said.
To assist these folks -- and everyone else -- buy plans on the exchange, it overhauled the problematic healthcare.gov site and repeatedly delayed the deadline to sign up and pay for policies. Many states running their own exchanges, such as California, followed suit.
Regardless, some consumers have been left on the insurance sidelines.
It's unclear how many. About 11 million people buy their own insurance, and reliable estimates do not exist for how many are losing coverage for 2014.