Deal in place for fix in health exchange billing problems

Deal in place for fix in health exchange billing problems
FILE -- Brad Finnegan demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website.
SEATTLE (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler have reached a deal for a major fix for the billing problems plaguing the state's answer to health care reform.

A spokeswoman for the insurance commissioner says the plan will be announced Thursday afternoon.

Under the agreement, people having technical problems with Washington Healthplanfinder may be able to bypass its payment system and pay their insurance company directly.

For the past seven months, the health exchange has been trying to solve billing problems in the exchange, caused by a combination of software issues and human error.

Some people aren't being properly credited by the exchange for their insurance payments. In some cases, money and information has been lost somewhere between the exchange and the insurance companies. And some people have been told by their doctors that the insurance company has no record of their coverage.

Officials at the exchange have estimated at least 6,000 accounts have been affected by the billing problems. They say thousands of accounts have been repaired each month but new problems keep popping up.

"I know we're only looking at a small portion of the problems," Kreidler said earlier this week.

No one could give The Associated Press the exact number of people affected by billing problems at the health exchange.

The governor, the insurance commissioner and officials at the exchange met Thursday night to talk about the repair work and discuss possible solutions.

Details of the arrangement, which will make Washington's payment system more like other states, have not been announced.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says the arrangement will be temporary until the next open enrollment period begins in November. People who have reported their problems to the exchange will be able to pay their next payment directly to their insurance company.