HHS cuts down on 'data matching' issues for exchange customers

Documentation issues continue to cause some people to lose exchange plans--dealing another blow to the Affordable Care Act's risk pool--though the issue has become less pronounced since last year.

“Data matching” problems led to the termination of 17,000 individual health plans in the first quarter of 2016, an 85 percent reduction from from Q1 2015, according to the Health and Human Services Department. 

Still, for some immigrants, bureaucratic complications can be the largest barrier to Affordable Care Act exchange plans--not affordability, USA Today reports. 

And others have lost coverage for reasons unrelated to immigrant status. A Virginia family of three was suddenly dropped from coverage for more than four months because the primary policy holder’s passport showed the woman’s married last name while her Social Security card displayed her maiden name, according to the article.

While paperwork remains a thorn in the side of the ACA, data matching is the same process the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is using to weed out individuals from double-dipping into Medicaid and ACA tax credits.  

But data issues jeopardize the balance of sick and healthy individuals in the risk pool, putting upward pressure on insurers' costs and premiums.

Abruptly losing health coverage “is adding to the instability consumers and plans are dealing with in the market and it drives up costs for everybody,” a spokeswoman from  America’s Health Insurance Plans told USA Today.