Officials Painted Rosy Picture on Oct. 1 Despite Pricing Problems
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.