get it home page promo

Official says insurance marketplace glitches will happen, but will be fixed

2013-07-11T00:00:00Z Official says insurance marketplace glitches will happen, but will be fixedBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
July 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Glitches are likely when a key component of “Obamacare” — the Internet sales hub for subsidized health insurance policies — has its major roll-out this fall, a regional spokesman for the agency in charge said Wednesday.

But, as bumps in the road occur, they will be addressed — just as they would be with the unveiling of any new, complex program, said Mike Fierberg of the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Fierberg compared the Oct. 1 roll-out of the Internet health insurance marketplace to the launching of Medicare Part D eight years ago, the new prescription drug-coverage program for the elderly people covered by Medicare.

Critics said Medicare Part D was going to “collapse of its own weight,” that private insurers wouldn’t participate, and that the public would have trouble understanding it, he recalled.

It did encounter plenty of problems at first, Fierberg said, and personnel in his office in Denver spent many hours tackling everything from enrollment problems to unpaid claims.

“Those were not fun months,” he said. “But we did it. … (Now), we very seldom get complaints about Medicare Part D.

“It does take time to refine things to make sure that they serve the needs of the people they’re intending to help. Is that likely to be the case (with the Internet marketplaces)? That would not surprise me.”

Fierberg has been in Montana this week to promote and talk about the unveiling of Montana’s federally run health insurance marketplace, where Montanans will be able to shop for and purchase a policy.

Those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — nearly $46,000 for a single person — can get federal subsidies to help them pay for the policies, which will take effect in January. The subsidies can be generous for those with lower incomes.

Fierberg appeared on a statewide radio talk show Tuesday morning and has been meeting with reporters across the state.

His Montana trip comes in the wake of a string of national news stories on the Obama administration pulling back on parts of the ACA’s implementation, such as a rule that says businesses with more than 50 employees must offer them health insurance or pay a penalty.

Fierberg said he doesn’t know precisely why the administration is delaying parts of the law for now, but that developing rules for the law is a lengthy, complex legal process that takes into account objections raised about the draft rules.

“I think that’s part of the dynamic that’s at work here,” he said.

Fierberg also said constructing the online insurance marketplace to interact with the systems of several state and federal agencies has been a huge task.

“Six months ago, there were times when we looked at each other and said, ‘There is no way this is going to be able to work,’” he said. “Now, we’ve made enough progress that there is a reasonable confidence that it is going to work.”

The federal government is building and running the insurance marketplaces for individual buyers in five of the six states in the Denver region: Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Utah. Only Colorado is running its own exchange, and Utah is running its own exchange for business customers.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. 5thgen
    Report Abuse
    5thgen - July 11, 2013 2:54 pm
    Interesting, I thought this was supposed to be the Affordable Care Act and now everyone refers to it as Obamacare, I know the folks on the right refer to it as Obamacare, mainly because they don't like it, but now apparently it's now standard policy by news agencies to call it Obamacare. Maybe everyone is realizing that it's not Affordable!

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editor@helenair.com. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif
Subscribe to HelenaIR.com Email Newsletters

Breaking news, contests, morning headlines and more. Sign up for updates from the Independent Record

Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses

Clipped From The Newspaper