Despite hitting goal, continues to sing the blues

As the official deadline for open enrollment closed Feb. 15 at midnight, there was both good news and bad news.

The good news is that 11.4 million consumers purchased health coverage this year, the Obama administration announced Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. This number could potentially grow, too--the administration briefly extended the deadline to enroll by Feb. 22, and many state exchanges extended their deadlines as well.  

The bad news is that continues to have back-end issues, reported Politico. Because the federal exchange is not properly wired to insurers, and subsidy payments aren't automated, payments made to insurers are based on estimates.

While the second round of open enrollment went relatively smoother than the first, health plans have been known to enter consumers' information manually and submit spreadsheets each month to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailing how much they should be receiving. This process is both time-consuming and costly.

Additionally, plans that struggled through the first open enrollment period experienced similar woes this time around, noted Politico. Auto re-enrollment was not a problem for insurers, for the most part, but it wasn't easy. Again, insurers had to manually fill out enrollment information and send it off to HHS.

All told, it's not that is broken, it's that the back-end issues were never finished, noted the article. That issue dates back to December 2013. The front end of the system operated seemingly without a hitch, while the back end was stuck playing catch-up.

The problem is that the back end is where the heavy billing and transaction processing goes on--it's easier to build a public website than it is to build a large-scale billing one, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the AP story
- check out the Politico piece