Data discrepancies found in roughly one in four applications for Obamacare

BY Jaywon Choe  June 4, 2014 at 5:57 PM EST
Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Roughly a quarter of Americans who signed up for private health insurance under President Obama’s health care law has inconsistent data in their applications, which could lead to them potentially losing coverage, according to government officials.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a new report identifying the discrepancies, which were first reported by
the Associated Press. It showed that roughly 1.2 million enrollees filed applications with questionable income data, while roughly another million had problems with either their citizenship or immigration information.

Officials with CMS, however, said the issue does not necessarily stem from people attempting to manipulate the system. Instead, they said in many cases data provided by consumers are simply more up to date than what the federal government has on record. It added it believes most of the problems will be resolved by the end of the summer.

Still, many Republicans have pointed to the new data as evidence that the system is flawed. Senator Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was one of them.

“A 25 percent error rate is simply unacceptable when it comes to proper use of scarce taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Even worse, today’s announcement once again illustrates how the President’s bloated health care law has left American families and taxpayers in financial limbo.”

All told, more than eight million people signed up for private health insurance between October and mid-April under the president’s health care law. As part of the approval process, applicants’ incomes must be verified to ensure that they meet the qualifying levels. They also must be U.S. citizens. If data errors go unaddressed, they could result in coverage cancellations.

But CMS reassured that was unlikely to happen and said that nearly 60 percent of applications are within a 90-day window for fixing the discrepancy.

“Two million consumers are not at risk of losing coverage,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said. “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.

All this comes just a day before the Senate is scheduled to take up a final confirmation vote on Sylvia Matthews Burwell , the president’s pick to take over as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

If confirmed, Burwell will replace Kathleen Sebelius who resigned in April.