Insurance companies aren't as confident as the White House is that Healthcare.gov will be up and running at the end of the month, and they're pushing the Obama administration to let them enroll people eligible for subsidies directly through their websites, The New York Times reports. No one's saying the website is doomed, but maybe, possibly, it might be a good idea to have a back-up plan, given what happened the last time everyone was sure the federal exchange site would work.
The Obama administration said no, justifiably concerned about giving insurers access to people's private tax information. Officials within the White House said they've always considered alternative methods to enroll people, but it's "of additional value now" for obvious reasons. So while the White House shot down the insurer enrollment short cut, a recent statement from their health care adviser Chris Jennings said the administration was "continuing to pursue additional avenues by which people can enroll, such as direct enrollment through insurance companies, that will help meet pent-up demand." Some other ideas:
- Allow insurers to work directly with shoppers to estimate their subsidy, and hope it matches with the federally verified subsidy down the road.
- Let people enroll before their paperwork is completed.
- Extend the enrollment period for months, deeply upsetting the insurance industry.