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Officials Painted Rosy Picture on Oct. 1 Despite Pricing Problems

by Christine Stuart | Dec 12, 2013 9:46pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, Media Matters

Christine Stuart file photo

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman on Oct. 1 launching Access Health CT

Despite assurances to the contrary from both Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan, the Access Health CT website was offering inaccurate pricing information when it opened for business.

Staff at the exchange were aware of the incorrect information when the site went live on Oct. 1, according to state officials, and a disclaimer message was added in three locations on the site. But Wyman and Counihan didn’t mention that on Oct. 1 when asked about the veracity of the pricing information made available upon launch.

Inaccuracies regarding deductibles and co-insurance rates impacting all 19 individual health plans were discovered Sept. 26, Counihan said Thursday. The problem may have impacted about 2,400 residents who signed up for plans through the Access Health CT website in October.

Counihan said that around Sept. 29 his team brought the problem to the Connecticut Insurance Department, which agreed that it would be a good idea to create a warning statement for the website. Counihan said the warning was placed in three locations on the site, and those have since been removed after the rate information was corrected.

“Access Health CT acknowledges that there are some inaccuracies on the shopping screens,” the warning read. “For example, cost sharing for out-of-network benefits should apply only after the deductible is met; the skilled nursing benefit should show a 90 day visit limit; and the standard silver plan’s specialty drug tier should show a 40 percent co-insurance after the prescription deductible is met.”

It goes on to say that the insurance carriers — Anthem, ConnectiCare, and Healthy CT — are not responsible for the mistakes.

“The insurance carriers have provided the exchange with complete and accurate information about each plan,” the warning reads.

But Counihan said Thursday that “nobody has given us 100 percent accurate information all of the time.”

Karen B. Clarke, HealthyCT vice president of external affairs, said that “HealthyCT submitted accurate information to Access Health CT for its website. When we learned shortly before October 1 that there were inaccuracies, a short-term solution was to include a PDF with correct information, along with Access Health CT’s plan to conduct outreach.”

The other two insurance carriers didn’t return requests for comment. The 12 small business group health plans were unaffected.

It’s still unclear exactly how or why the information was coded into the system incorrectly if the insurance carriers did in fact provide the exchange with accurate information.

CTNewsJunkie asked Wyman, who co-chairs the Access Health CT board of directors, about the accuracy of the benefit information offered on the website at an Oct. 1 press conference celebrating the launch of the exchange.

“Is there information in the database, if you go online, that’s not accurate at the moment?”

Wyman replied, “No, we believe everything is accurate.” Counihan can be seen shaking his head affirmatively in the background.

In a phone interview Thursday, Wyman explained that everything on the site was accurate because the “warning was already posted on there.”

She said the warning was already informing people what they needed to do “while we were fixing the problem.” And she said the problem was corrected much faster than anticipated.

Asked how long the bad information was being offered along with a warning, no one had an answer. However, officials said the problem was corrected before the end of October and the warnings were removed.

Counihan, who was in Washington at a conference sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans, was unable to recall Thursday whether he told Access Health CT board members about the inaccuracies before the launch. Wyman said Counihan had told her.

The inaccuracies on the website in October were limited to “benefit descriptions on the shopping screen,” according to a letter Access Health CT sent to the 2,400 individuals potentially impacted by the glitch.

The letter, which followed phone calls, asked enrollees to make sure they selected an accurate schedule of benefits and asked them to confirm it by returning a form within 10 days. A self-addressed stamped envelope was included in the letter.

All shopping screens were corrected by Oct. 30. It’s unknown how many enrollees opted to switch plans after receiving a letter from Access Health CT about the problem.

The Courant and Fox61 were the first to report on the problem.

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(13) Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | December 13, 2013  7:50am

This is a fine example of why the public, the taxpayers, are so cynical and disillusioned by government and those who occupy seats of power. Instead of correcting the information, or delaying it until the information is correct, they made a conscious decision with the approval of the state’s own insurance department, on how to have plausible deniability if the truth ever comes out. And in the meantime, deny deny deny there is any hint of a problem similar to Washington. This is just lame.

posted by: UConnHoop | December 13, 2013  8:55am

How many more contortions can these people perform to cover up the fact that Obamacare is a disaster?  Even if we disregard all of the short term problems, the long term effects of this POS are 100 times worse!

posted by: JAM | December 13, 2013  9:59am

Can you imagine the outrage these politicians would claim if a private sector company pulled something like this? They’d be elbowing each other to get in front of the camera.And you’d hear the “fraud” frequently.
But when it’s the state, everyone hides.
This is akin to an online retailer posting a picture of a Rolex and delivering a Timex.
Even with the disclaimers, most people would understand that those most often refer to minor exceptions, limitations, or qualifications. They understand they can read the plan in detail, but most probably go with the general descriptions (and who could reasonably expect someone to study the fine print of 19 plans!)
And now what? Can people reneg on their choice? Get their money back? There are 19 days until the 1st of the year. I

posted by: Just Saying | December 13, 2013  12:29pm

Is is odd how the critics and the media keep talking about the inadequacies of the web sites when the really crushing problems are the exorbitant premiums, co-pays and out of pocket expenses. No one in government is admitting that they created an unworkable and unaffordable model.  Just because CT takes the lead in foisting this turkey on its citizenry doesn’t mean that our lousy plans are any better than those in the other 49 states. It just means that people in CT are at the front of the line when government starts to hand out free stuff. BTW: Do you want a SNAP card to go with that free insurance? Government cheese maybe? How about some WIC funds?

posted by: dano860 | December 13, 2013  2:11pm

Just Saying is correct. We have been buffaloed into thinking that this is about healthcare. It has been about affordable insurance, the healthcare portion of everything is (was) suppose to remain the same but that is changing too. Why? Because the costs and policies are to expensive. Co-pays are higher and your deductible is going through the roof. My son 34, can get a policy for $1000.00 per month but it will have a $7500.00 per year deductible! Where does that make sense for a self employed single guy?
It was suppose to be the Affordable Insurance Act (AIA) but it has turned into the Un-affordable Insurance Act and pandering to the takers, not the makers.

posted by: Lawrence | December 14, 2013  4:41pm

“This is a fine example of why the public, the taxpayers, are so cynical and disillusioned by government and those who occupy seats of power”

No, this is an example of five right-wing complainers posting here trying to pretend they represent everyone’s opinion.

100,000 people in CT who never had health insurance before will have it as of January 1. Only about six Republicans in the state voted for this, because the GOP wants a world of “haves” and “have-nots,” not only when it comes to jobs, housing, incomes and transportation, but when it comes to health care, too.

Don’t worry. When everyone looks back on universal health care in another 5-10 years, the small bumps in the road of implementing it compared to its national, human benefits will be apparent. And hate-filled, ignorant Republicans and their anti-human policies will be disappearing further and further into the American political scene more than ever before—like the dinosaurs most all of them are.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask John Boehner and Paul Ryan. They essentially said the same thing this week, albeit without the partisan edge.

posted by: GoConnecticut | December 14, 2013  10:47pm

My ObamaCare policy starts in just 17 days.  Law of the land.  Get used to it.

posted by: GoConnecticut | December 14, 2013  10:56pm

dano860, where did you get those numbers?  I’m single, in my 50’s and live in Fairfield County.  The policy I bought was only $576 per month, $5,000 deductible.

posted by: lkulmann | December 15, 2013  8:38am

Warning labels on Health Insurance!? Typically we label unhealthy products with warning labels.
Is their a Healthcare Advocate who will advocate for CT residents. Someone who will insist that the healthcare laws obey the ACA guidelines.

posted by: StanMuzyk | December 15, 2013  5:25pm

GoConnecticut:  Your message sounds like both—a threat,  and a promise

posted by: dano860 | December 15, 2013  11:49pm

GoConn,
They are the figures my son said he obtained. That’s all I know. They do say the younger you are the more you pay, does that explain it? I don’t know?
Even if he had a number that was closer to yours, lets say $750/ month, he still can’t swing it.
So law or no law, he’ll pay the penalty and go without.

posted by: GoConnecticut | December 16, 2013  12:52am

dano860, In all sincerity I say your son should check out the policies on AccessHealthCT where a 34-year-old single man can get a policy for about $300 per month.  I pay more because I’m about 20 years older than your son.  If your son makes less than $45,960 per year he can get a subsidy to further reduce the cost.

posted by: dano860 | December 16, 2013  10:12am

GoConn, Thanks, I’ll pass that on to him. I don’t know his annual income.