WA Healthplanfinder enrollees receive bad news about tax credits

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Thousands of people who enrolled on the Washington Healthplanfinder website are getting some bad news. They're receiving letters informing them that the system miscalculated their tax credits, impacting the monthly premiums quoted to them when they applied.

The errors range from a few cents to a few hundred dollars per applicant per month.

When Mimi Altice logged onto to Washington Healthplanfinder Tuesday, she says a new message immediately put her on edge.

“Eligibility decision for healthcare coverage," she read from the letter. “Just the word ‘decision’ threw me into a panic. [I] thought we were already decided.”

Altice, whose household income is about $2,700 a month, already enrolled for an insurance plan and received a great quote.

"$49.04,” she said. “I cried. I did. I cried, because it was such a big relief.”

"I almost felt like it was too good to be true,” she added.

And now she knows it was.

Altice was one of 8,000 applicants who received letters from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The incorrect tax credit calculation meant her premium would go up.

Instead of paying $49 a month, her new monthly premium will be $310.

The miscalculation makes her doubt the system altogether.

"It's scary. It's really scary,” she said.

What is she afraid of?

"That this isn't really going to happen or they're going to find more mistakes,” she said.

A health exchange spokesperson says the error was systemic, and caused by "...inconsistent file formats being shared between Washington Healthplanfinder and the Federal Data Services Hub.”

Spokesperson Bethany Frey explained, "The investigation revealed that the two systems were using different parameters to establish estimated household income."

Altice says, errors aside, what is more important to her are the big picture.

She is still better off with the Affordable Care Act.

"What I used to pay was $855 a month for just my husband and I, and now we'll pay $310.”

The problems with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange are totally separate from the issues facing the federal site.

Altice says her insurance broker was a big help in this process. Insurance brokers offer their services with no cost to the consumer.

 

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