Will health insurance exchange launches be the 'next Y2K'?

Will the servers crash on Oct. 1 as more than 30 million new users become eligible for health insurance through exchange systems developed for the Affordable Care Act? 

Some experts are likening the launch of more than 50 new health insurance exchange websites to the "next Y2K," saying computer glitches will be system's downfall early on, reports Benefitspro, which says capacity and security are the main concerns.

"I don't think it's cause for concern or panic," Rosemarie Nelson, a principal consultant at MGMA Healthcare Consulting Group is quoted as saying in the article. "But that being said, we know that with technology, anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong."

Among the states, Oregon has announced that its marketplace won't be fully operational until mid-October00at the earliest. On Oct. 1, the exchange, called Cover Oregon, will list agents and community partners who can walk people through the signup process. From there, state officials say, the phased-in launch will be a matter of debugging the website, reports Oregon Live.

Connect for Health Colorado's site wasn't working properly back in May--even for casual viewing--when the state wanted to offer an easy way to check prices.

With only 17 states building their own exchanges, that means the federal government will operate 33. That effort is being called one of the largest undertakings of its kind for the government.

Security testing for the data hub, the backbone of the exchanges, is behind schedule, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General. That testing is expected to be complete by Aug. 16. The hub has been called a "privacy nightmare." Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), in an opinion piece published in U.S. News & World Report, said the potential for abuse of information to be stored on the hub "staggering."

Nevertheless, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius vowed last week that computer problems not delay launch of the exchanges, according to The Dallas Morning News.

To learn more:
- read the article
- here's the OregonLive story
- check out the Morning News post

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