Tuesday, July 02, 2013

What Color Was Your Volvo?

The Obamacare health insurance exchange is expected to be operational on 10/1/2013.

The key word here is expected.  

But to get past the first steps you may think you are being grilled by Sgt. Joe Friday.
The potential for problems will begin as soon as would-be buyers log onto their state exchange. They'll enter their name, birth date, address and other identifying information. Then comes the first IT handoff: Is this person who she says she is?
 To check that, credit bureau Experian will check the answers against its voluminous external databases, which include information from utility companies and banks on people's spending and other history, and generate questions. The customer will be asked which of several addresses he previously lived at, for example, whether his car has one of several proffered license plate numbers, and what color his old Volvo was.
It's similar to the system that verifies identity for accessing personal Social Security information. If someone gets a question wrong, he will be referred to Experian's help desk, and if that fails may be asked to submit documentation to prove he is who he claims to be.
I have trouble remembering passwords for online accounts. And those challenge questions can throw you for a loop.
Give the name of the third pet you owned. (Does a goldfish count as a pet?).
Provide the name of your youngest third cousin on your mother's side.
Yeah, this can be a lot of fun for those wanting a subsidy.
Fortunately you are not REQUIRED to buy on the exchange. There will be a lot more offerings and richer plans OFF exchange.
The answers must be returned in real time, before the would-be buyer loses patience and logs off. If the reported income doesn't match the IRS's records, the applicant may have to submit pay stubs.
These federal computer systems have never been connected before, so it's anyone's guess how well they'll communicate.
Or if they will communicate . . .
The federal hub has to verify even more arcane data, such as whether the insurance offered to a buyer through his job is unaffordable, in which case he may qualify for federal subsidies, and whether the buyer is in prison, in which case she is exempt from the mandate to purchase insurance.
If someone's income qualifies him for Medicaid, or his children for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), software has to divert him from the ACA exchange and into those systems. Many of the computers handling Medicaid and CHIP enrollment are, as IT people diplomatically put it, "legacy systems," meaning old, even decades old.
What's the problem? Doesn't the NSA have all this?
I think Sen. Max Baucus' assessment was generous. Train wreck doesn't begin to describe what lies aheas.
blog comments powered by Disqus