Looks like Obama may have gotten ahead of himself: HHS reports 2.6 million unresolved Obamacare data inconsistencies

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama may have gotten ahead of himself when he announced in April that more than 8 million people had signed up for coverage on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hasn’t resolved some 2.6 million data inconsistencies in Obamacare enrollments, according to a report from the department’s internal watchdog.

“During the period of our review, marketplaces were unable to resolve most inconsistencies, which they reported most commonly as citizenship and income,” the report from the HHS inspector general explains. “Specifically, the Federal marketplace was unable to resolve 2.6 million of 2.9 million inconsistencies because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) eligibility system was not fully operational.”

The report explains that applicants can have multiple inconsistencies and that the 2.6 million remaining inconsistencies that the “do not necessarily indicate that an applicant provided inaccurate information or is enrolled in a qualified health plan or is receiving financial assistance through insurance affordability programs inappropriately.”

Inconsistencies weren’t limited to the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, which covers 36 states. States operating their own exchanges reported their fair share of issues, though seven states were able to resolve the inconsistencies on their own. But, still, the federal exchange is the biggest challenge.

“We also found that data on inconsistencies are limited,” the report continues. “For example, the Federal marketplace could not determine the number of applicants who had at least one inconsistency.”

The HHS inspector general explains that the federal exchange “was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies.” Here’s a look at the categories of inconsistencies as of late-February, which ranged from citizenship and residency status to income to employer-sponsored coverage:

Now, an inconsistency doesn’t mean that an enrollment will be invalidated. But, at the very least, the HHS inspector general’s report renews the questions surrounding the credibility of President Obama’s 8 million sign-up claim.

The administration, of course, has not yet provided any information on how many of those purported sign-ups have actually made a premium payment and are truly enrolled in health plans on the Obamacare exchanges.

The HHS inspector general recommends that CMS “develop and make public a plan on how and by what date the Federal marketplace will resolve inconsistencies” and “conduct additional oversight of State marketplaces to ensure that they are resolving inconsistencies according to Federal requirements.”

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