When healthcare.gov opened in late 2013, it was so crippled by technical problems that critics questioned whether people would be able to sign up for coverage. Now, it may actually be too easy to enroll.
That’s according to a new government audit, presented in testimony from the Government Accountability Office, delivered at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday. When federal auditors tried to apply for insurance coverage and tax credit subsidies using fictitious applicants, they succeeded 11 out of 12 times. Here are some highlights from the GAO’s undercover investigation:
Fake applicants got through on the phone
The auditors couldn’t get coverage for fake applicants just by going online, because the website couldn’t verify their identities. But investigators successfully completed the fake applications on the phone and got coverage for almost all of them. In the one enrollment that didn’t succeed, the applicant declined to give a Social Security Number, though other cases that had missing or invalid SSNs were approved.
Communication with applicants is still mixed up
The marketplace asked eight of the fake applicants for additional documents to prove citizenship and identity, “but an accompanying list of suitable documents that could be sent in response consisted of items for proving income.” This arguably says more about healthcare.gov’s consumer experience than it does about its fraud controls.
All 11 applicants kept coverage despite missing documents
The auditors submitted either fake, partial, or no documentation in response to requests. All were automatically renewed in subsidized coverage for 2015.