The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released a report indicating that the health insurance exchanges being set up in 34 states by the federal government as part of the sweeping health care changes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act might not make the Oct. 1 deadline for open enrollment.
Specifically, the report determined that “much progress has been made, but much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time. [The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] timelines provide a roadmap to completion; however, factors such as the still-evolving scope of CMS’s required activities in each state and the many activities yet to be performed – some close to the start of enrollment – suggest a potential for challenges going forward.”
In the Mid-Atlantic, the federal government is creating online health insurance exchanges for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. Delaware is working on a quasi-state-federal exchange, and Maryland and New York are creating their own online exchanges.
Approximately 2 million people are expected to receive insurance through the small business exchanges, while seven million people will be enrolling in the individual insurance exchanges in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The report said that U.S. officials remain behind schedule on key segments including those involving consumer eligibility for federal subsidies, certification of health plans to be sold on the exchanges and hiring, training and certifying navigators who will guide consumers through enrollment. The report noted that CMS officials said that the required training for Navigators will be Web-based, and it is still under development.
States are also behind in implementing specific federally facilitated exchange functions, and CMS data show that many state activities remain to be completed and some were behind schedule, according to the report.
Despite delays in the process, the Department of Health and Human Services emphasized the progress it has made in establishing exchanges, and expressed confidence that exchanges will be open and functioning in every state by Oct. 1.
Most Americans must have health insurance coverage by Jan. 1, 2014.