Federal Health Care Website Glitches Could Affect Health Care In Mass.

BOSTON (CBS) — The White House says healthcare.gov is working better than it has been.

But more potholes could lie ahead.

John Kingsdale says not all the initial problems are fixed and it could be a bumpy ride for both the short and long-term.

Kingsdale set up the Massachusetts health care enrollment system for then-governor Mitt Romney.

Now a private health care consultant, he fears what may happen if still un-tested parts of the federal enrollment system function as poorly as the web portal has.

“It will mean a lot of people will be frustrated on January 1, not being sure whether they’re enrolled, thinking they’re enrolled, not having a bill yet, thinking they’ve paid a bill that may not be the right amount,” Kingsdale said. “I think it’s turning out to be a little more complicated perhaps than Congress understood when they drafted something that was as ambitious as this.”

Massachusetts, seen as the model for the federal program, had a much smaller hill to climb with far fewer uninsured than the rest of the country, a wealthier state and one that had gradually done a number of reforms.

Kingsdale says if the system’s problems prevent the right mix of sign-ups over the next few months, watch out for sticker shock further down the road.

“Health care providers will be leery and prices will go up,” Kingsdale said.

Currently, the sick are motivated to sign up, while those who are healthy may not be as inclined to jump through hoops to enroll.

Since health-plan prices for 2015 will be set in the spring of next year, those costs could be a major political issue in the congressional elections next fall.

So while improvements in the website are good for Obamacare, even a booster of it like Kingsdale acknowledge even bigger hurdles lie ahead.


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