Problems Found with 2 Million Obamacare Signups
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The Fiscal Times
June 4, 2014

At least 2 million people who signed up for Obamacare have discrepancies in their applications that could jeopardize their health coverage.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that about 1 in 4 people who enrolled in the new health exchanges have discovered issues with their applications, including incorrect details about their income, citizenship and immigration status, according to a government document provided to the news organization.

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The high volume of discrepancies is creating mountains of work for the federal government, which will have to sort it all out this summer. The discrepancies, in some cases, will require consumers to make repayments – while other more severe application issues could actually result in lost coverage.

HHS officials said they will resolve the discrepancies over the next few months and reach out to people with application issues. In the meantime, HHS has implemented a system that will automatically “turn off” benefits for enrollees who are determined to be ineligible.

“The fact that a consumer has an inconsistency on their application does not mean there is a problem on their enrollment,” said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the AP reported. “Most of the time what that means is that there is more up-to-date information that they need to provide to us.”

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The majority of the applications with discrepancies – about 1.2 million of them – contain incorrect income information, according to updated numbers provided by Bataille to the AP. This would impact people receiving subsidies, which are based on income and family size. Since the subsidies are structured as tax credits, the IRS can deduct overpayments from a taxpayer’s tax refund the following year.

By law, only citizens and legal immigrants are entitled to subsidized coverage.

About 505,000 people have issues with immigration data and 461,000 have conflicts related to citizenship information. Only citizens and legal immigrants can qualify for subsidized coverage. 

Under the law, there is a 90-day window to correct any discrepancies on enrollee applications without affecting coverage. Bataille told the AP that roughly 60 percent of people with discrepancies are still within that cushion.

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.