Obamacare Changes for Cancelled Policies and Catastrophic Plans will Require Significant changes to Healthcare.gov


Beta testing anyone?  

It seems simple enough that Obama’s HHS can change the rules, and make it easier for people to buy lower quality, less costly plans in order to avoid a no-coverage penalty in 2014.   The announcement was broken by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post  at 9:15 PM on December 19.  Read Article Here  

Basically the administration unilaterally changed the law to allow people, whose plans were cancelled due to Obamacare mandates, to purchase Catastrophic medical plans through http://www.healthcare.gov, in spite of the fact that such plans were illegal and unavailable for anyone OVER 30 prior to the latest fix.  

Again, this sounds simple.  Unless, of course, you understand anything about software programming, web design, and testing, and data flow.

Was your plan cancelled  due to new Obamacare Mandates?    This is the question that triggers the new option for some Americans.  The funny thing about this question is that Obamacare defenders have stated that Obamacare did not cause any plans to be cancelled, rather people were given better renewal options, or better plan renewals.

Putting that aside, Healthcare.gov now must ask that question.  Somewhere in the flow of the web site, before eligibility is determined, and before plan options are listed, the applicant must be asked.

If they answer “YES”,  will the site ask for any additional validation such as an insurance carrier name, or policy number?  Good question.

Once someone answers YES, to “was your plan cancelled due to Obamacare Mandates?”  Now what?   Prior to this fix, they would only have had access to insurance company plans in the medal categories:  Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.   (Remember that news reports are coming in that Bronze plans already start with deductibles in excess of $5000 per individual and $10,000 per family.)
Anyone OVER 30 was blocked from Catastrophic plans.  NOW, the over 30 filter must be eliminated in order to list these additional plans as an option.

Do insurance carriers even want to offer Catastrophic plans to people over 30?    This is a good question and not easily resolved.  Insurance companies are generally not known to be the most flexible in their product offerings.  Explained another way, they generally take HUGE amounts of time and data BEFORE they release products and rates to the market.  It is safe to say that they do not currently have rates for these plans ready to go, since they were ILLEGAL up until yesterday.

What about Beta Testing?   Can we all say this together “we will NEVER release anything on Healthcare.gov without beta testing it again”.  Is that not the lesson of the botched launch on 10/1?  

Well here we go again.  As I just described above, adding the December 19 fix to Healthcare.gov requires new questions to be asked on the front end, and more options to come out of the back end.  Basically we have a brand new process of input and output of data.

Assuming that the changes can be made rather quickly, there needs to be a significant process of testing, fixing, retesting, and checking it again.

The funny thing about software programs and web apps, sometimes one change one place, can cause breakdowns and crashes in other places.  

Ultimately, the programmers who are working 24/7 to fix the site, are going to now have to inject a whole new process flow.  At the end of the day, the site needs to work 100% of the time, and produce accurate results 100% of the time.  That is the standard.

So how many days would you want to make these changes?  If you were in charge, how many would it be 30, 60 90 days?  Well, I’m pretty sure they won’t get much time at all.  

Making changes on December 19, announcing them live….this is a programmers nightmare.  




One thought on “Obamacare Changes for Cancelled Policies and Catastrophic Plans will Require Significant changes to Healthcare.gov

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