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HealthCare.gov’s Mysterious New Number: ‘834’

With the website working better on the consumer front, attention has turned to whether insurance companies are actually getting enrollment information — what tekkies call “834” data.

(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Now that the front-end of HealthCare.gov appears to be working properly, the media’s focus is quickly shifting to the back-end systems that are supposed to provide insurance companies with accurate information about consumers enrolling in their plans.

The issue is an important one because if insurance companies get incorrect data, their future customers may not be enrolled properly and that could lead to headaches — or worse — come January when patients show up at doctors’ offices or hospitals thinking they are insured but really aren’t.

Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post has been flagging this issue for some time, writing in October how the “834” transactions that the government sends insurers each night could make or break the law.

If people can’t get into the Web site, then they simply have to come back later. But if they believe they’ve signed up for a plan but their 834 is a garbled mess — or, even worse, clear but wrong — it could mean chaos when they actually go to use their health insurance. For that reason, inside the health-care industry, the 834 problems are the glitch that is causing the most concern.

The problems appear to have persisted even as the website itself has gotten much easier to use for consumers. The Post reported earlier this week:

The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.

The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since HealthCare.gov opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.

Administration officials say the Post is wrong, but haven’t been willing to provide correct figures.

The New York Times has similarly reported on the problems:

The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that will not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.

The Times has a graphic showing all the ways enrollment can go wrong.

Late yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and two insurance trade groups issued a statement saying they are working on the problem and pledged to report publicly on their progress.

But the issue has proved contentious, dominating daily media calls CMS is holding. Some tweets yesterday conveyed the frustration:

Kliff summarized yesterday’s call in a piece for the Post’s Wonkblog:

Health reporters still want more 834 data. Three reporters, including myself, made another attempt to get information on errors effecting the 834 transmissions, the files the exchange sends to insurance plans when someone signs up for their plan. We know there have been some problems with these transmissions, but don’t have a great sense of how many problems — or how quickly those problems are getting fixed.

"I can appreciate the frustration," [CMS spokeswoman Julie] Bataille told Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne when he brought up the issue. "We believe the vast majority of the fixes are now in place."

Louise Radnofsky from The Wall Street Journal followed up, asking for a reason why the error rate would not be shared. “As I just mentioned, we are actively working with issuers to assess the fixes and validate the numbers,” Bataille said.

"We’ve heard numbers like 80 percent [of the errors were from one bug]," Radnofsky pressed. "There must be a number out there."

"What we’ve reported on there was that we believed there to be a transaction issue causing those inaccuracies," Bataille responded. "As we validate the assessment of the fixes, we will report on our progress."

"So it’s a validation issue?" Radnofsky asked.

Medicare spokesman Richard Olague cut in.

“We’ll have to move on to the next question,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein’s “Healthy buzz” blog. Have you tried signing up for coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 5, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

So Medicare operates virtually error free for decades with the same government resources as the ACA yet is a total failure?  Pardon me my BS detector is going crazy.

You all just can’t let this go.  I rely on Propublic along with other sites to give me the important information without a slant but it seems like the ACA website issues have gotten plenty of coverage from you…...how about the fact that the Pentagon has not had an audit for years and doesn’t know how much of my tax dollar they are spending nor where they go.

Late yesterday the following was reported:

“In a joint statement with insurers, federal health officials said they were working closely with the industry to “resolve back-end issues between health plans and HealthCare.gov” and would report on their progress at a later date.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/192109-cms-back-end-issues-persist-will-be-resolved

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 5, 2013, 6:04 p.m.

A lack of accountability, which is present in all our US institutions now, is just a symptom of the dominance of organized crime in our politics.  Impunity is the goal, impoverishment and endless scams the result.  This criminalization of everyday life has been progressing since the days of Prohibition and has resulted in a totally corrupt governing system that is incapable of addressing actual needs in the society.  Question: if it can be demonstrated that one lives in a failed state, what difference do the theater antics of supposed political “leaders” make?  Any?  Well there is the hidden benefit of being able to roughly identify the truth by looking in the exact opposite of what they are saying. Which is to not to say that ineffectual liberal politicians aren’t sincere, it is just that they are emasculated and irrelevant to matters of concern.

Alfine Beatrice

Dec. 5, 2013, 7:33 p.m.

Claim it’s “tekkies” who call financial transactions 834, but in fact the term has no meaning outside the federal venture into online insurance sales. More accurately, wonks call it 834.

For the rest of us, it’s called a failure to fulfill a purchase. It’s called selling somebody else’s service when you have no way of fulfilling the sale. If it’s my corner insurance agency who takes my information then tucks the sale in the drawer without completing the insurance purchase on my behalf, it’s called insurance fraud.

Is massive failure to deliver 834 transactions insurance fraud? Probama advocates might say no, because no payment has taken place until the company gets the 834 and replies with a contract and a bill.

But wait. The reason we’re going to medicalcare.gov (oh, wait - they pretend medicalcare is in fact healthcare.gov) is not to get health or medical care - it’s to avoid a tax penalty. So yes, we’ve engaged in a transaction that will ostensibly let us avoid a tax penatly, paying three or four hours of conscripted labor to avoid this tax penalty.

But guess what? No “834” was delivered, we don’t have insurance, we’re out three or four hours labor nad we still owe a tax penalty. All under the umbrella of a government claiming to sell insurance. Sounds like insurance fraud.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 5, 2013, 8:47 p.m.

Yes, definitely a fraud.  And no I don’t think it is a mistake in the normal sense of the word, more like an engineered disaster under the cover of which our already fully corrupt medical system will become even more fraudulent since the fraud is being carried out under the color of authority.

It really didn’t used to be this bad.  Don’t make the mistake of accommodating to abuse.  Fight back any way you can, join with others, even if it doesn’t seem to change anything for the sake of your sanity and the certainty that not fighting back will only increase the torment.

Insurers have been working with systems forever.  I have worked in the insurance system all of my career.  I have worked almost every area over my career.  We always had errors, called “error reports’ and we each had an “error ratio”  for anything that did not issue.  These carriers are no different in this industry and the ones that are in helped to pilot this program, they have been around a long time and are industry leaders that make the “right” things happen.  I have worked All Lines of Insurance, mainly for Travelers Insurance Company and after almost 30 years I could not get grandfathered in for health insurance upon retirement because I was to young when I started, and I fell into a grey area and I am still there, but soon I will not be.  If it is not one thing that can be picked at, of course, there will be something else.  The main purpose is that ultimately when all the haters and fault finders actually see that people are happy about their insurance and their health and that they are not lined up in clinics or laying out at a hospital in the back of the line because they do not have insurance, then the benefits will be seen, one person at a time, we will then just have “living Proof” and human life and health is the primary goal, not who can have less errors in the system.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 5, 2013, 11:59 p.m.

One can hope that it all works out better for many people.  I keep waiting for signs that that is true.  I am usually the one I would most like to see proven wrong.

Herb, I think you will see progress. This process has been a mess but let us count all the obstructions placed along the trail. The site will improve just as Medi.. programs did or Plan D.
We are the last civilized country working on getting our act together. We could always ask for help. <grin>

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 6, 2013, 4:12 a.m.

Anono, change for sure, “progress” has become a vague goal.

Hope you see your outcome become.

To tell you how many 834 errors there are that would assume that they know.

I’m very concerned that the direction in this article has gone very far off the rest of the series.  Suddenly, we’re far less concerned about the errors than the fact that the government doesn’t have all of you on speed-dial to give you minute-by-minute updates!

Of the things going on that the administration (and it’s predecessors) haven’t told us anything useful about, is this really the best line in the sand to draw?

Meanwhile, have any Freedom of Information Act requests been filed?  If it’s that important to know…

IMO, it is important to raise significant concerns with the back-end process of healthcare.gov and to keep asking questions about progress.

If the 834s are not being transmitted correctly by the federal exchange website (and yesterday’s joint statement evidences that they are not), very shortly there is going to be a huge problem—people who signed up on the website will think they have insurance but the enrollment information never got to the insurer. These people will schedule medical appointments or try to refill their meds or have an accident, and will find out that they do not have insurance.  It will be a royal mess and people will be seriously harmed, financially and possibly physically (if they do not get their needed medications).

Putting your fingers in your ears and singing “la-la-la” in hopes that everything will turn out fine is deluding yourself.

And Anono, the “obstructions placed along the trail” have been the Administration’s very own political obstructions as they have delayed things to ensure particular political outcomes.  They have only themselves to blame.

Policywonk, actually, I was thinking about all the obstructions placed along the trail by the Republicans, followed by a Supreme Court run through before all the engineers could draw up their game plan.

Additional hardships, for example, are the States who refused to play, yet have the greatest needs. Texas comes to mind. This is not even addressing the covert obstructions. Hopefully, time will tell.

Such a system will take time, as have our previous programs. At least we are trying to join the other civilized countries who already have health care for all.

DOTTIE ROBERTS

Dec. 7, 2013, 1:59 a.m.

i lived in Germany 4 years and had my last child there.  Having privat insurance i set in a different waiting room, in hospital i had an egg for breakfast, more quality china and all around service.  Turkish road worker died while the Dr. practiced his english while putting a super bandaid on a nine year old child’s head.  read all 2,700 pages and you will understand the screw up.  Better yet read Professor Betsy McCaughey’s digest which took her three months. It is a real loss for seniors. There .  are 20 new taxes plus wrecking Dr./patient relationship!  2014 starts the reality check and you cannot blame the Republicans as their vote is on record

Anono, I knew that’s what you meant.

However, despite the GOP moaning and groaning about the law and holding—what is it?—about 40 impotent votes to repeal in the House, what “obstructions” did the Rs place along the way that actually, really, practicably hampered implementation of the federal Exchange website or the rest of the law.

I suggest, none.  Once a law is passed, there is very little to nothing that political opposition can do to prevent or alter regulations, and that very little—Congressional challenge to regulations—was not done here.

If you look at the dates that important Exchange regulations were issued in 2012, you will see that after summer 2012 there was a “dead space” during which no regulations were issued—until after the November 2012 elections, when regulations start being issued again.  Below I have posted links to the pages on which these regulations are listed so you can see for yourself.

The Administration clearly delayed important Exchange regulatory decisions until after the 2012 election so as not to offend voters and lose elections.  Their delay has now bitten them in the butt, as their IT contractors had insufficient time to build and test the website.

Oh, and a news article this morning indicates the Administration is now fessing up that a quarter of 834s from October and November are defective.  I suspect it is much more than that from what I hear. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/07/us/politics/flaws-in-enrollment-records-for-insurance-exchange.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131207&_r=0


http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/index.html#Health Insurance Marketplaces

http://www.cms.gov/cciio/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/index.html#Premium Stabilization Programs

http://www.cms.gov/cciio/resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/index.html#Plan Management

P. S. I am neither a Republican nor Democrat, but I work on this law every day.

Alfine Beatrice writes:
“But guess what? No “834” was delivered, we don’t have insurance, we’re out three or four hours labor nad we still owe a tax penalty. All under the umbrella of a government claiming to sell insurance.”


Except the government ISN’t selling insurance. If it were, we would be talking about medicare for all. No. The problems stem from the government’s attempt to be a broker for PRIVATE for-profit sellers of insurance, and the system set up to connect broker to seller is a total cluster kludge.

I wish I COULD buy insurance from the US government.

Jim Senter, you wish you could buy insurance from the government? You do know that Medicare is not an insurance program, right? Have you ever helped your parents with their Medicare coverage? If you had, you’d know the following:

—There are 4 parts of Medicare:  Parts A, B, C, and D.  Seniors typically elect either Parts A (hospitalization), B (physician) and D (drug), or Parts C (Medicare Advantage, which a senior can only select if they already elected both Parts A and B) and Part D.

—Because Parts A and B have relatively high deductibles and no cap on co-insurance, almost all seniors have a supplemental plan to fill the gap—either a private Medicare Supplement plan, or retiree coverage through their former workplace.  They pay a premium for Med Supp coverage. Retiree coverage is becoming increasingly rare, however.

—Part A is funded by amounts a worker pays in during his working years.  If Part A were extended to all those younger than the eligible age, premiums would need to be assessed.

—Under Part B, a senior pays monthly premiums.  Seniors also pay monthly premiums for Part C (if elected), as well as Part D.

—Medicare does not cover benefits for dental, vision, or hearing.

—On average, Medicare covers about half of seniors’ health care costs.

Are you starting to get the impression that, contrary to popular misconception, Medicare is not free and does not provide 100% coverage?  Do you realize that Medicare is not a silver bullet for the problems in our health care system?

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 8, 2013, 2:13 p.m.

Thank you policywonk,

Life is relentlessly more complicated by the day and Medicare is no exception.  After you get done sorting through the financial facts of medicine in the US you become quite ill, so I am sympathetic with those who stop trying to understand something that is so fundamentally irrational and counterproductive as the US health extortion system. 

The really chilling thing is that Medicare works better than the rest of the system, has had demonstrable positive effects on the lives of seniors.  It would be so much easier if we got rid of the predatory profit seeking that is the core of the insanity that we confront, not just in Medicine, but in every aspect of the lives of the many in the US. 

In a sensible order of priority, in fact, medicine is a minor influence on well being compared to broad social and public health measures such as were introduced along with the financial redistribution that occured during the new deal period (the birthplace of Social Security which Medicare is a part) and has been reversed over the last forty years. 

For instance, our diet, including all the unpronounceable and often unannounced chemicals and genetic contaminants we consume in processed food, is killing us, straight up, and the big corporate players are making fortunes treating the side effects of this mass poisoning to boot.  Trans Fatty acids, which have been growing constantly as a part of the diet, cause most of the hypercholesterolemia that is creating billions of profits for our drug companies.  Not a conspiracy, and opportunity.  Many such interactions exist in our failed state.

If a society can not confront being deliberately poisoned by their wealthy elite, how can it expect to deal with peripheral issues like securing a “provider” appointment to be lectured about one’s cholesterol and BMI.

We are not making sense.  Maybe we have been listening to the Talking Heads in our heads for the last thirty years.  “Stop Making Sense?”  Yeah, let’s all do that.

I am reading Herb and Policywonk intensely. What do you suggest? We must have a medical program and we are terribly behind other countries; therefore, what do either of you suggest?

I retired from the San Francisco area to a mountain cabin in the nearby Sierras. I have been restoring the side of this hill for years, which made a jumping off spot for Yosemite National Park. No people…no noise… for more than 2000 acres. The stars are awesome; however, good medical is back in San Francisco, where I’ll be going this week.

Pending heart surgery and the replacement of another artery in the other leg. I do not fit any of today’s stats, such as obesity or smoking but I did plant myself in front of computers for decades.

How do you suggest we deal with the implementation of a medical program for everyone at affordable rates? It is being done, elsewhere.

Herb,

I am curious why you refer to the “US health extortion system” and the “predatory profit seeking” of the system.  Are you a clinician?  If so, do you recall Pogo’s famous statement, “We have met the enemy and he is us”?  The GAO issued a report some time ago indicating that the consolidation of provider systems in certain areas of the country led to increased medical prices due to the consequent stronger contracting leverage gained by these mega health systems. Ironically, the ACA fosters such provider consolidation due to its encouragement of ACOs, and HITECH before it due to the meaningful use requirement for EMRs.

Alternatively, do you believe that if the U.S. were to adopt Medicare For All, that clinicians would welcome the necessary pay cuts involved in instituting socialized medicine? Do you believe that citizens would be able to afford a system that paid only 50 cents of every medical claim?

It is my belief that we have to deal with reform in the country we have, not in the country some may wish we have.  The U.S. is not Canada; we are not the U.K.; neither are we France, Germany, or Scandanavia.  There are no silver bullets that will magically solve all problems in our health care system at once. Occam’s Razor doesn’t work in this situation.

That brings me to Anono.  It has always seemed to me based on my long experience with our system that we could and still can make effective changes targeted to address specific problems within the system. The Medicare Trust Fund is running out of money? Congress should have the intestinal fortitude to enact reforms that will truly prevent the Medicare fraud that is increasingly perpetrated by organized crime consortiums which find Medicare easy pickin’s. Rural areas of the country have neither sufficient amounts of providers nor quality hospitals?  Provide incentives—loan forgiveness for MDs, tax breaks for new hospitals that build in outlying areas, explore telehealth programs for specialist care. Low income people cannot afford insurance?  Encourage take up of Medicaid, but provide additional funding for provider payments so that Medicaid recipients have an easier time finding providers. People with chronic conditions who cannot get insurance on the private market?  States have sponsored high risk pools for many years, and the federal high risk pool enacted by the ACA could be extended.  These are just a few of the many, many ideas for effective health reform targeted to specific problems in the system that have been debated by health policy wonks for years.

There are no easy answers to complicated questions.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 9, 2013, 1:15 a.m.

Not feeling well enough right now to respond at length, but basically dishonest systems can not be reformed.  Corruption is so deep we will need, in the unlikely event that we can actually get anywhere on a national basis now that the country has been looted, to start over pretty much at the beginning.  Like a creaky old house full of termites, best just tear it down and start over.  The money power invested in the status quo will hold out till the bitter end then go live in Switzerland or someplace else that had the sense to retain its sovereignty.  Now we are dealing with a monopoly system (see the book Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction by Barry C. Lynn and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein) that is showing a remarkable convergence with the old Soviet System (Demetri Orlov in Reinventing Collapse) and is collapsing as an example of a central command and control structure that has self destruction built in.  States will likely pick up the pieces and start retooling of health care system from one designed to wring every last cent from suffering people to a more effective and humane one.  Vermont is on its way.  Unfortunately it looks like general economic collapse is going to spike all these grand plans and local communities will have to figure out what to do about health care on their own.  It is important to remember that an elite system of care will persist and the standard of care there will so outpace the rest of a public based and lower class system that health care will end up causing more illness due to simmering resentment than it cures with insufficient means.

Extortion: pay your premiums or you will die.

With all due respect, Herb, you did not answer my question as to whether you are a clinician. Are you, or were you, part of the problem you attack?  If so, what did you do about it?

The ACA does not level the playing field with respect to standard of care.  One could argue that it worsens (or keeps as status quo) the two tiers of medical care in the U.S.

Ah, Vermont…..what Vermont does is always going to be an anomaly, a one-off.  You can’t extrapolate the policy of a state with fewer than 500,000 people to the rest of the U.S. I highly doubt that Vermont’s experiment with single payer (if it ever is implemented, that is) will succeed.  Besides, Vermont has its own share of crooks—its single federal CO-OP created there was denied licensure due to self-dealing and conflicts of interest.

I don’t believe there is so much corruption in the health care system—but it certainly is rampant in the executive branch since 2008, as the populace currently is discovering every day.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 9, 2013, 12:50 p.m.

Curious.  Voi dere outside the courtroom.  Are we a letgenous society or what?!

I was clinically involved before I went to Medical School (‘69-‘70) as a field representative working for The Committee of Responsibility, finding, selecting, medevacing, finding of families and eventual repatriation after restorative care for severely war wounded children.  This was the last of my five years in Viet Nam (‘66-‘70).  Fluent in Vietnamese (surprising stil good despite almost never speak it anymore), I was supposed to be supporting a physician working with me who would be doing the medical stuff, but I guess they never found an MD that could tolerate beginning shot at occasionally.  Post graduation (‘79 CWRU) I did a pediatric residency in San Francsco (Mt. Zion and UC Davis Sacramento) and worked for the first year or so in an Indian Health Service clinic in Sacramento and ended up working in Orange, CA in Juvenile Hall as Medical Director, Adolescent Medicine clinical faculty and doctor for the children’s shelter where I did child abuse evaluations.  I continued with this pattern in LA and San Bernardino Counties for more than a decade.  Additionally I was a staff pediatrician for Kaiser Fontana where I was in charge of child abuse issues, examinations and some court testimony while participating in the formative development of Child Sexual Abuse Exam standards as part of a large group of MDs from Southern California.  I also maintained a successful solo private practice for a few years before the Feds made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and ended up spending a year in South Carolina working in a (CONT)

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 9, 2013, 12:59 p.m.

VERY rural setting (Darlington County).  I went back to San Bernardino to join the faculty there teaching Pediatrics in their Family Practice Program.  Exigencies ended up having me work in rural Maine for a while, filled a resident position (as a locums tennens only) at Cedars Sinai Childrens Intensive Care Unit for year.  I also worked for a couple of years in rural North West Pennsylvania (Titusville) and perhaps a dozen different places for months at a time across the entire US doing locums.  I spent a number of years working on the North Coast of California ) Fort Bragg, CA.  At every stage I was working in hospitals across the country caring for routine and complicated (tertiary care) cases.  Now sidelined by health issues so have not been clinically active for the last few years.

Does that help on the clinical question?

Herb, thanks for the information, although I note this isn’t by any stretch litigation nor was I conducting voir dire.  I was simply trying to understand your perspective.  And now I see that you have been deeply involved in a number of different areas in the health care system, for many years.

Yet I am still curious:  Have you actually seen corruption in every place you’ve worked?  It seems a little hyperbolic to say that the entire health care system is corrupt.

I do not think we have a monopoly in health care—at least not yet.  Perhaps the ACA’s encouragement of ACOs will drive physicians and hospitals to combine in ways that get us pretty close to monopoly power. That may well occur given the Department of Justice antitrust division’s lax review of provider consolidation.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Dec. 10, 2013, 1:03 a.m.

“Yet I am still curious: Have you actually seen corruption in every place
you’ve worked?” More and more as the years went by.  The eighties were hard on the system.  The extermination of solo private practice begins then.  Initially I was involved in County Government in Orange, shortly to become bankrupt due to investment scams.  I would be introduced sometimes at meetings I soon learned to avoid, so I could see the outlines but was safely ensconced in Juvenile hall with Director of Medical Care on my card.  It was a good place to watch from. 

“It seems a little hyperbolic to say that the entire health
care system is corrupt.”  But now essentially true.  With my background growing up feral with criminally inclined extended family to watch out for, I probably have a leg up on seeing these things.  At a hospital a number of years ago I had an op ed published in the local paper asserting corruption at the local district hospital.  It turned out to be true.  Crooks were run off.  But it is me that has suffered, but I’m not complaining.  It is in my nature to do these things. 

“I do not think we have a monopoly in health care—at least not yet.”

If you make some sort of pie chart dividing up the “health care industry” that contributes to the GDP figures and assign earnings you will find that a very few firms in each niche control their specific market.  Monopoly was Ma Bell.  Now, technically we have oligopoly (sounds like an Italian dish) were a few large players do non-compete, so the effect is the same.  Ever increasing market share and profits while production and quality decline.  That book Cornered that I recommended earlier, rereading it now. It is current and describes how modern economic concentration and non-competition work.

For whatever it’s worth, I just ran into the 834 glitch again, on Saturday, December 7, after my enrollment hung on the dental insurance glitch, and a healthcare.gov helpline supervisor unhung it. 

To unhang my enrollment, she cancelled the non-enrollment that was stuck (and hadn’t gone through), and then re-enrolled me in the health plan that I wanted, and put it through.

My insurance company ended up with THREE enrollments; the cancelled one, the correct one, and a mystery one, all put through within a minute of each other.  And they can’t figure out how to process this.  As of eight hours ago, the enrollment call center supervisor had consulted his vice president and been told to research it, and he was supposed to call me back this afternoon.  Noone has called me back.

There hasn’t been enough discussion about this dental insurance glitch online.

The dental glitch has evidently been encountered often for months.  A CAC called into the CAC training teleconference last Wednesday, about it, but when I tried to recover what to do about it, both the supervisor at my center (I do research) and the help line assured me there is no such problem.  Yet online I see where someone reported encountering it months ago.  After my application hung up on it, I called my center, and the person I spoke with on the phone told me she had just run into the same thing helping someone complete their enrollment.  So it’s far from rare.  The problem is that, though one doesn’t have to select a dental plan, the application actually won’t let you refuse to select one.  Some people have gotten around this by taking a plan temporarily.  The way that site isn’t currently even letting people unenroll, I didn’t want to risk doing that.  I could swear that is exactly what we were told to do in the teleconference, and I didn’t write it in my notes because it made no sense.  When you don’t select a dental plan and go ahead and complete and submit the rest of the application, it hangs instead of submitting.

It is not clear to me whether it matters how you don’t select your dentist.  Since there is a note by the SET button for dental that it is optional, I ignored it.  One can alternately click to set it, and click to select or not select a dental plan.  Conceivably if I had done that my application would not have hung.  However, some time ago someone else reported she did go into it and check the no dental insurance option and it hung on her.