Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
Some Americans who froze their credit score studies following the large knowledge breach this yr on the credit-rating agency Equifax could also be in for a shock in the event that they attempt to buy insurance coverage on the federal well being legislation’s marketplaces. That freeze might set off a delay within the software course of.
Signing up for a market plan on-line requires shoppers — particularly first-time enrollees — to show their id by answering questions linked to their credit score historical past. It can have an effect on each those that are looking for a subsidy and people who should not.
But right here’s the rub: Consumers who’ve blocked entry to their credit score studies typically “cannot get past the ID-proofing part,” mentioned Matthew Byrne, founding father of the Spiralight Group, a brokerage in Dublin, Ohio.
That presents issues because the clock is ticking on open-enrollment season for the Affordable Care Act’s well being protection, which ends Friday in most states.
“Your identity wasn’t verified,” warns the healthcare.gov web page. It means that the applicant name “the help desk,” which is run by one other credit score reporting agency — Experian — that works with , or name the healthcare.gov name heart, in line with a screenshot despatched to KHN by a dealer.
That name to Experian typically solves the issue, if the applicant can efficiently reply questions generated by the agency. Those can embody queries about earlier addresses, autos owned or present mortgage lenders, in line with a 2016 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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But not all the time. Geoff Dellapenna mentioned shortly after he and his dealer entered a few of his data onto the web software, the display screen confirmed the warning that his id couldn’t be verified. They would want to make one other name first.
“I just put a stop to it,” mentioned Dellapenna, 46, of Canton, Ga. “I was so frustrated with how cumbersome the whole process was being that I just could not do it.”
He’s now working with the dealer to see if he can get small-group insurance coverage for his firm — avoiding the healthcare.gov web site altogether.
There are workarounds for shoppers: Applicants might must add or mail in paperwork. Some brokers advise their purchasers to “unfreeze” their credit score studies earlier than enrolling within the ACA by calling the three main credit standing businesses: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The freeze might be restored as soon as enrolled.
But these choices might take time. With the Dec. 15 deadline quick approaching, brokers say some individuals shall be upset in the event that they wait till the final minute.
“None of this is simple,” mentioned Kelly Fristoe, a dealer in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Fristoe mentioned the topic of credit score freezes and the ID verification has come up steadily on dealer boards this yr. Otherwise, he added, the enrollment course of has been easy.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services mentioned shoppers utilizing healthcare.gov, which serves 39 states, don’t must unfreeze their credit score to be able to apply, “nor do we recommend that step for identity proofing.” Uploading or mailing the knowledge will typically work, she mentioned.
Most of the states that run their very own marketplaces for ACA enrollment additionally use the Experian system for id proofing, though no less than two — New York and California — have modified the method to assist keep away from among the delays, in line with the coverage report.
New York, for instance, makes use of state motorized vehicle information and different knowledge along with Experian — and has a particular name heart that licensed assisters can use to assist candidates who can’t move the web verification. California additionally makes use of assisters, who’re registered with the state, to verify paperwork and add them for candidates, the report says.
Many individuals heeded warnings within the early fall to watch their credit score or place a “credit freeze” on their accounts with the three main reporting companies after Equifax revealed that hackers had stolen data on 143 million Americans, together with Social Security numbers.
A freeze restricts entry to a shopper’s credit score report, which may make it tougher for id thieves to open new accounts utilizing stolen data. Consumers should name or log on with every of the three credit-reporting businesses to create a freeze — and hold the PIN numbers wanted to reopen the accounts.
Still, a credit score freeze isn’t the one purpose why candidates would possibly face an ID delay, mentioned Spiralight’s Byrne.
Sometimes candidates enter a quantity incorrectly — say, one digit in a Social Security quantity. They might have a fraud alert on their credit score accounts due to a earlier id theft. Or the particular person is younger and has little or no credit score historical past.
But in all circumstances, they might get a discover saying extra data is required and the applying course of involves a standstill. But, as long as the method was began earlier than the tip of open enrollment, shoppers ought to have the ability to end their purposes.
Once they get cleared after offering paperwork, candidates are eligible for a particular enrollment interval, mentioned Shelby Gonzales, senior coverage analyst on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In that case, her recommendation is to phone the “healthcare.gov call center and let them know you’ve been cleared for identity proofing, and they should be able to help you activate the special enrollment,” she mentioned.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.