County Pulse: Covered California trying to restore enrollment data after software malfunction

Posted by Ken Carlson on March 1, 2014 

The Covered California exchange was sorting out the impacts from a software malfunction during a three-day period last month that affected more than 20,000 health insurance applicants.

The exchange said Friday it was working to restore health insurance enrollment data that was lost during the malfunction Feb. 17-19. Covered California took the enrollment portal at www.coveredca.com offline for several days and restored it last Monday.

Friday’s press release said no personal data were compromised during the outage.

“We regret any inconvenience this has caused,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. “Our enrollment website has been up and running this week, and we look forward to helping consumers get the health coverage they want and deserve.”

The exchange, which is enrolling consumers in health plans through the Affordable Care Act, said 14,500 consumers who partially completed applications or submitted updates during the three-day period are affected. They should either start a new application or resubmit any updates, the exchange said.

Also affected are 6,500 consumers who finished applications and chose a health plan. According to the press release, they don’t need to take any action. “Their applications and plan selections are being processed by the health insurance plans selected, and the information will be fully restored by Covered California,” the news release said.

Those consumers need to make the initial premium payment by the insurer’s specified deadline this month for coverage to start April 1.

Covered California said an additional 16,000 people were directed to apply for Medi-Cal during the three-day period. Those applications are being processed by the counties where they are eligible. The exchange promised their information will be restored in the online system.

The malfunction was another mishap for Covered California as it heads into a final push before the March 31 close to the inaugural enrollment period for federal health reform. The state’s online application system has been generally regarded as avoiding the initial failures of the federal government’s www.healthcare.gov, though that hasn’t been the experience of local insurance brokers or people commenting on the Covered CA Facebook page.

DROP THE DRUGS

Prescription drug drop boxes will be placed next month inside the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Operations Center on Hackett Road and substations in Riverbank, Patterson, Waterford and Hughson.

It’s a way for residents to dispose of leftover prescription drugs so the pills stay out of the hands of young people. Last week, county supervisors approved an ordinance for the safe disposal program, also intended to protect the environment. The cost of the drop boxes is $4,659.

“We have had Drop the Drugs events twice a year and community members have asked to have more of that available to them,” said Madelyn Schlaepfer, director of county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

County officials said people will be able to use the drop boxes in substation lobbies with no questions asked. The Sheriff’s Department will empty the boxes and properly dispose of the pills, Schlaepfer said.

The director said that Drop the Drugs events will continue in Modesto and other cities.

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