Health insurance exchange contractor gets the axe in Maryland

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The company behind the hugely costly but highly defective online marketplace has been fired.

The state of Maryland has now fired the contractor that was behind the creation of the expensive health insurance exchange online marketplace that was supposed to allow the state to be able to comply with the federal health care reform.

The defects in the site are extensive enough that Maryland may have to abandon part or all of the system.

health insurance exchange problemsDespite the fact that the health insurance exchange creation came with a tremendous price tag, it has never functioned properly and could be causing more harm than good. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has now voted to end its contract, worth $193 million, with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, the contractor that created the marketplace. In order to attempt to repair the highly faulty exchange, the state hired Optum/QSSI, a company based in Columbia. That relationship started in December and that contractor will now take over for Noridian, which will be helping with the transition process.

After months of failures there seemed no way forward with Noridian in the state’s health insurance exchange.

According to the Cabinet secretary in charge of IT, Isabel FitzGerald, “We worked very hard with [Noridian] to find a path forward.” She added that “the decision now is that we are just not making the progress that we had hoped.”

This is quite the disappointment for Maryland, which was one of only fourteen other states across the country that decided to create their own online marketplaces in order to comply with the health care reform from the Affordable Care Act. The state’s residents and politicians – including Governor Martin O’Malley (D) – greatly supports the president’s overhaul of the system and had been hopeful that this website would provide them with the some of the best access in the United States.

Within mere minutes of its original launch on October 1, 2013, the Maryland health insurance exchange website had already failed. This stopped residents who were keen to enroll from being able to do so. Since then, the system has been stumbling along, just barely alive. Officials now think that they may need to start relying on the federal website or on other state operated sites, at least in part.

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