Next Obamacare enrollment period faces bumps -U.S. official
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. consumers who purchase private health coverage through the federal Obamacare website HealthCare.gov are likely to find only modestly higher premiums but may still have technical problems signing up, a top health official said on Thursday.
"It won't be perfect," Andrew Slavitt, a newly appointed principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told lawmakers at hearing before a House of Representatives oversight committee.
"It's a bumpy process at times," he added. "I think we've got a committed team of people, though, that by and large are doing a very good job. But there will clearly be bumps."
However, Slavitt said the three-month 2015 open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15 will be under vastly different circumstances from HealthCare.gov's botched launch last October, when the website was overwhelmed by technical problems for weeks.
Despite claims by Obamacare's foes that consumers would face double-digit cost increases for 2015, Slavitt said early indications from several states, including Rhode Island, Delaware and Washington, point to premium hikes in the mid-single digits.
"While this isn't going to be true for every single individual and every single county in America, by and large the early results look very positive," he said.
Slavitt was previously an executive at a government contractor working on the site and a leader of the rescue team that turned around HealthCare.gov in time to allow more than 5 million people in 36 states to obtain coverage.
He said the administration has overcome planning, management and cost control problems that led to the disastrous rollout and a subsequent explosion of costs that hit $840 million in March. Continued...