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ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Private web insurance sites enroll for ObamaCare (for a 7% fee?)

Dear Lord, how did I miss this? MSNBC:

The federal government has signed five landmark deals that set the stage for major Web insurance markeplaces to enroll potentially millions of people in Obamacare, CNBC learned late Wednesday.

The breakthrough, which came after months of negotiations, lays the groundwork for the Web exchanges to begin enrolling people who qualify for government insurance subsidies in the 36 marketplaces that the federal government is either running for individual states or in partnership with states this year. ...

But for now, GetInsured, eHealth and all other Web-based markets remain effectively locked out of doing the same kind of subsidized business with the remaining 15 exchanges being operated by individual states and by the District of Columbia. Both California and New York have opted out of such deals, as least for the first year of their exchange's operation.

Under the deals, eHealth, GetInsured, and the other Web markets are being allowed access to the federal exchange data hub, which is necessary to allow would-be insurance buyers to have their eligibility for subsidies verified.

I'm totally sure that raises no privacy concerns!

The deals are the first step toward giving eHealth permission to actually enroll subsidized customers in the exchanges' insurance plans, an approval that is now viewed as a "formality," according to a person close to eHealth.

Cool. So Obama just privatized ObamaCare. The only role for the government is to hand out the subsidies. One can only wonder if the Federal Exchange is being fucked up for a reason, eh?

Now, eHealth and GetInsured are setting their sites [sic] on persuading those states operating their own exchanges to overcome their widespread resistance to partnering.

Lauer said he hopes those states "will follow the leadership of the federal government."

Krishan of GetInsured said, "It's our goal, intent and commitment to get all 50 states, and it is our goal to serve customers across the country."

The deals could earn eHealth and GetInsured a lot of money.

The former, for example, gets an average premium of about 7 percent for the plans it offers on its website, in the form of commissions paid by the insurance providers who sell the plans.

So, a 7% rent on top of the rents already charged by the insurance industry???

A March 2012 federal regulation gave Web-based insurance markets the ability to enroll subsidy-qualified people in the new exchanges. But the regulation left it up to the governments running those exchanges to decide whether to let the online markets do so.

Since then, eHealth's Lauer, in particular, has lobbied diligently to get the Obamacare exchanges to grant that permission but had been thwarted until this week.

Allowing private Web markets to sign up people on their sites may save the government money in enrollment costs, according to Lauer. It will also broaden the participant pool, he said, providing premium payments from younger, healthier people to balance the older and sick people who tend to generate benefit costs.

"Having us involved is going to expand the size of the pool, and all of that is going to help to mitigate risk, balance risk and hopefully keep prices and premiums stable," Lauer said.

Last year, eHealth drew 20 million visitors, half of whom were between the 18 and 34, he said.

So this is what Obama had up his sleeve on that demographic (making it all the more clear Enroll America and the Navigators really are just "walking around money."

NOTE Sorry my response to this isn't as coherent as it should be. I need to do more research....

UPDATE One reason I didn't pick up on this is because Kaiser didn't cover it. Weird.

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katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

Isn't there anyone who can stop this? Who will run around with flaming hair screaming until it actually goes away?

It was bad news when it was proposed and everything we've learned about it is worse than the last.

And by the way, it's easy to tell that the Republicans secretly love it. There is so much that would enrage people if they really wanted to kill it, they'd have no trouble at all getting people riled up.

Submitted by lambert on

CCH Freedom is advocating that people not sign up. I can't see how that will be effective, since some will benefit -- just not all, not nearly all, and not equally.

What conservatives are not advocating is tax resistance. Which is weird, if you think they want to oppose ObamaCare effectively, since (a) conservatives are all about cutting taxes, (b) are ginning up an IRS scandal, and (c) there are no penalties for not paying the ObamaCare assessments.

Submitted by hipparchia on

my plan is a variation on the tax resistance scheme. i'm going to pay the penalty, include a note in my tax return to the irs (yes, paper!) about why i'm resisting buying insurance, and then send a copy of that note to obama and sebelius and maybe to selected others.

the note (ok, so it may turn into something longer than a note) is going to include my objections to the data hub issues (thank you for all your work on this!) and my objections to private insurance.

Submitted by lambert on

... and we might want to publish the letter when the time comes? Sorry to be slow in responding, I missed this.

Submitted by hipparchia on

I'm totally sure that raises no privacy concerns!

none whatsoever! /snark

y'know... some days I wonder if harry reid and nancy Pelosi are 11-dimensional chess grand masters after all, letting the corporocrats lard up lizfowlercare to the point that it's going to crash under its own weight....

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

"Jesus Joseph & Mary"

And I'm sure that the 7% commission that the insurance companies are paying this third (?) layer of non-value-adding intermediaries (i.e., rent extractors) will in no way shape or form get passed along to the ... marks patients consumers.

At least the lady from eHealth was honest in saying that her company's lucrative involvement in the ObamaCare supply chain will only hopefully keep costs down.

One note. The government's (Obama's) involvement is not only limited to paying subsidies, but also to paying out the piles of walking around money to all the vendors who are implementing the monstrous IT and advertising arms of this anti-citizen operation. In fact I'd wager that adding up the 100s of millions that have (and will be -- remember, "maintenance" $$ and "continuing development" $$$ and "bug tweaking" $$$$ contracts) shoveled into the pockets of the crony vendors far outstrip (and will in the future) the aggregate $ amount of subsidies.

Another note. Reading this it is no wonder that Obama and HHS have been operating in deep secrecy. I wonder if Cory Booker or one of his front, shell organizations or companies are somehow recipients of ObamaCare walking around cash. As mayor of Newark Booker could make a very easy pitch to BHO that some of those "enroll america" bucks would be very well spent encouraging the young and healthy population of Newark to sign up for the ACA insurance scam!

Submitted by lambert on

... the insurance companies, although doubtless they will pass is through to others. (IOW, prices not visibly different on public and private sites. (Oh, great....)).

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

... have you ever heard of a cost that an insurance company did not pass on to its customers? (Same with mutual fund managers, brokers, hospitals, NYU, Real Estate Vulture Funds, et al. -- It's the FIRE Way! (TM).)

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

This is So Beyond the F*****g Pale.

What the hell kind of economy do we have in this country anyway, where there are companies that make money glomming on to a publicly funded program by claiming they can help make the program reach recipients. I mean seriously. What does it take to work at eHealth -- 1, 2, five? years of experience selling defective used cars? eHealth and the other outfit certainly make good exhibits for why higher ed (or even high school, for that matter) are not necessary to thrive in America's misshapen, grotesque economy.

Wow. Just wow.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

There's a certain genius (and we know Obama is a Mensa Messiah) in privatizing the navigator function in this way (other than, of course, rigging "private" markets by steering thick flows of cash to preferred market players (always rent-seeker leeches)).

The liability issues. I'm not even sure if we ever figured out what all liability Gov funded Navigators would have to the patient, consumer-and-or-mark for giving them wrong instructions/advice/navigational directions re appropriate Exchange Products. But we know they weren't fiduciaries and there was very little change any meaningful duty of candor was required of them (plus various immunities for the Gov., the contract issuer). Now that the private internet leeches are intermediaries in this game, liability shifts by yet one more degree of separation from Obama-HHS.

It would be AWESOME if one of us could track down a copy of one of these just-revealed contracts to see what if any liability clauses exist! I know -- "awesome" is pretty relative unless you're a dedicated ACA-unmasking gumshoe nerd :)

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

I speed-read through this very short document and see no language specifically addressing an enforceable duty to provide accurate or appropriate information -- and there's certainly a large part of the vendor's job that involves, basically, providing materially critical information to the citizen.

Half the contract and a huge appendix are garble about "Privacy" (what the vendors can and can't do with all that personal info from the Hub the vendors will be collecting) -- as if (a) any of it is enforceable or (b) it's really the main issue. (It's like a deal that says: You're responsible for getting these people enrolled by giving them info and guidance about making seriously crucial purchasing decisions, but the only thing we're really demanding from you in terms of compliance is respecting our boilerplate privacy requirements. As opposed to: "You are undertaking an extremely important role that will result in people buying very expensive things that they believe will result in them receiving affordable healthcare. If we find out you're obtaining enrollments by making false representations or otherwise using sketchy inducement techniques that involve not mentioning or misrepresenting important stuff, you're out the contract, you reimburse all dollars paid, and your CEO goes to the slammer."

There's an odd little "carve out" in the privacy section of the contract that seems, at first blush, to allow the vendor to collect all the data that it's getting from the Fed Hub independently and (it seems) that the vendors can use that data anyway they want. I can't vouch for this interpretation at this point since I only speed read and I hope I'm wrong. I'll look at it more closely tomorrow.

What a G*d Damn Scam.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

Is it an add on grabbed directly from us? Or is there some provision in the bill that allows the Feds to pay this contract?

And what does this mean in terms of Sibelius assuring us that all development was totally on schedule?

And do these guys get to access our credit at Equifax (to determine our income based on credit card use)?

F*k I hate this law.

Submitted by lambert on

... for the other forms of insurance they already sell. See the link to the contract above.

Here's the list of what they can get from the Federal data hub:

PII Received. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement and applicable laws, in performing the tasks contemplated under this Agreement, WBE may create, collect, disclose, access, maintain, store, and use the following data and PII from Consumers, Applicants, Qualified Individual, or Enrollees:

APTC percentage and amount applied
Auto disenrollment information
Applicant Name
Applicant Address
Applicant Birthdate
Applicant Telephone number
Applicant Email
Applicant Social Security Number
Applicant spoken and written language preference
Applicant Medicaid Eligibility indicator, start and end dates
Applicant Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility indicator, start and end dates
Applicant QHP eligibility indicator, start and end dates
Applicant APTC percentage and amount applied eligibility indicator, start and end dates
Applicant household income
Applicant Maximum APTC amount
Applicant CSR eligibility indicator, start and end dates
Applicant CSR level
Applicant QHP eligibility status change
Applicant APTC eligibility status change
Applicant CSR eligibility status change
Applicant Initial or Annual Open Enrollment Indicator, start and end dates
Applicant Special Enrollment Period eligibility indicator and reason code
Contact Name
Contact Address
Contact Birthdate
Contact Telephone number
Contact Email
Contact spoken and written language preference
Enrollment group history (past six months)
Enrollment type period
FFE Applicant ID
FFE Member ID
Issuer Member ID
Net premium amount
Premium Amount, start and end dates
Credit or Debit Card Number, Name on Card
Checking account and routing number
Special enrollment period reason
Subscriber Indicator and relationship to subscriber
Tobacco use indicator and last date of tobacco use
Custodial parent
Health coverage
American Indian/Alaska Native status and name of tribe
Marital status
Requesting financial assistance
Responsible person
Applicant/Employee/dependent sex name
Student status
Subscriber indicator and relationship to subscriber
Total individual responsibility amount

One thing I know: Buying ObamaCare is nothing like buying an airline ticket, or a flat-screen TV.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

The contract doesn't mention any payments in exchange for services. Instead, it's in the nature of a "license" to access the Fed Hub in order to navigate the poor schlubs who contact the vendors hoping to get health care.

No mention of $compensation, or payments, etc. from Gov. to vendor.

Unless there's some separate side agreement where eHealth, et al, are actually getting paid a base salary before picking up the commission fees from the Private Insurance Companies.

Assuming there is no compensation except the Ins. Co. commissions -- can you even begin to imagine the hellacious conflicts of interests arising from this system of compensation? I'm sure eHealth will never steer a customer to an Ins Co or particular policy because it is getting certain benefits from that particular Ins Co or the Ins Co offering the particular policy in question.

This is a straight out corrupt bounty hunting form of compensation. The fraud on the customer is baked into it. No wonder there's no consumer-protection type clauses in the agreement. (Unless I missed them.) How different is this from the shlubs who contributed to 401(k)s that were selected by the benefit managers on the basis of the kickbacks they were getting from the managers of the funds (usually proprietary garbage taylor made to fleece and extract and to guarantee no gains). Or any schlub who still is silly enough to go to a financial broker for advice on how to invest his/her cash?!

Not good. Not good at all. ObamaCare is a massive fraud scheme targeted at US citizens and no detail to ensure its mission is being overlooked.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

I didn't see anything about the vendor being able to collect a 7% commission from the private insurance comapnies in the contract.

Did I miss it? Argh, have to go re-read. But if it is NOT in there, it would be very significant (on several levels) to know where exactly that commission-fee is being "implemented."

I mean, did Sebelius and Obama basically sit the CEOs of the 10 insurance companies in this country down in a room and say: Hey guys, we know you're trying to enroll as few people as possible, but that's not the deal -- so we've got an army of


online outfits with big mailing lists who will be doing a lot of enrolling -- and you're picking up that tab -- it's 7% per policy. (Or maybe Gov tried to ask for 15% and the CEOs bargained down to 7% ... which would be .... sooooo unusual..)

Because other than Gov telling the InsCo's they MUST compensate these Fed-licensed vendors, how else would the Ins Co's have ended up stuck with the tab? Payments to entities other than themselves and their C-Suites are not something to which Ins Cos take kindly.