ABC News(WASHINGTON) — More than two million Americans who enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov — or 1 in 4 applicants overall — could be at risk of losing their coverage or being forced to repay part of all of their subsidy because of discrepancies with their applications, according to a government document confirmed to ABC News by an administration official.
The Department of Health and Human Services says that in many cases consumers provided identity and income information that conflicts with what the government has on record. The result: Some Americans may have received greater subsidies than merited or were allowed to purchase plans when they were ineligible. HHS says it’s now “double and triple-checking” with applicants to verify their information.
“Those consumers were still able to enroll in Marketplace coverage — as provided for in the law — but, when they enrolled, they received a notice instructing them to submit a little bit more information,” CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille explained in a blog post.
Where a consumer fails to provide the follow-up information, or reveals that they have erred, the policy will be revoked and a request for subsidy repayment will be made, Bataille said. She said the agency is scrambling to follow up with each applicant, commonly requesting copies of paystubs as proof of income or birth certificates to verify the correct spelling of a name.
“We are working with consumers every day to make sure individuals and families get the tax credits and coverage they deserve and that no one receives a benefit they shouldn’t,” HHS spokesman Aaron Albright told ABC News. “Two million consumers are not at risk of losing coverage — they simply need to work with us in good faith to provide additional information that supports their application for coverage and we are working through these cases expeditiously.”
HHS says the average family of four was asked to electronically submit 21 different pieces of information relating to identity, age, income eligibility, etc., when applying for a plan under the Affordable Care Act.
HHS says “sometimes a name or data point didn’t match up right away” due to a recently changed or lost job, for example. Officials claim the vast majority of those with discrepancies on their applications will ultimately keep the coverage they purchased.
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