“Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are raising doubts about the ObamaCare data hub designed to power real-time eligibility determinations for the new insurance exchanges. On Friday, 16 GOP lawmakers asked Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for a briefing on how the hub will protect sensitive information and when it will be complete.”

“In recent weeks, I’ve talked to a handful of large healthcare firms and medical practices that offer specialty medical services. I asked them what kinds of prices they’re soliciting from the new health plans now taking shape under Obamacare. These providers said that they’re demanding, and in some cases securing, pretty rich reimbursement rates from the new, Obamacare health plans.”

“Government officials have missed several deadlines in setting up new health-insurance exchanges for small businesses and consumers—a key part of the federal health overhaul—and there is a risk they won’t be ready to open on time in October, Congress’s watchdog arm said. The Government Accountability Office said federal and state health officials still have major work to complete, offering its most cautious comments to date about the Obama administration’s ability to bring the centerpiece of its signature law to fruition.”

“Whatever the reason for the reluctance of the state created exchanges to include private business participants, the end result is that taxpayers will spend millions of dollars unnecessarily while fewer people are likely to be enrolled in qualified health insurance programs—and that is just wrong.”

“Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces for small businesses, which have already stumbled before getting out of the gate, are facing another pressing question just months before millions can sign up for benefits: What happens if insurers don’t show up to sell? Early looks at insurance offerings on the Obamacare exchanges show that insurers aren’t exactly signing up in droves to sell on the new Small Business Health Option Program exchanges.”

“Teams of technology experts are racing to finish building government websites that will allow people to shop and sign up for health insurance this October. People involved in the effort say to expect some problems, at least initially. The functioning of the websites—which will enable people without health insurance to enroll in plans offered through a federal or state insurance exchange—will play a major role in determining whether the Affordable Care Act is deemed a success or failure, since the 2010 law’s prime objective was to bring coverage to those who lack it.”

“California’s health insurance rates for a new state-run marketplace came in lower than expected this week, but one downside for many consumers will be far fewer doctors and hospitals to choose from. People who want UCLA Medical Center and its doctors in their health plan network next year, for instance, may have only one choice in California’s exchange: Anthem Blue Cross. Another major insurer in the state-run market, Blue Shield of California, said its exchange customers will be restricted to 36% of its regular physician network statewide. And Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of Southern California’s most prestigious and expensive hospitals, said it’s not included in any exchange plans at the moment.”

“What this means, however, is that Covered California is creating for itself a very favorable and already higher baseline from which to compare next year’s individual health insurance premiums. That’s how they’re able to create the appearance that Obamacare’s reforms will lower individual premiums. To put it simply: Covered California is trying to make consumers think they’re getting more for less when, in fact, they’re just getting the same while paying more.”

“In 2012, the average individual insurance plan cost Californians $177 per month, according to online insurance marketplace ehealthinsurance.com. Yet the report put out by Covered California lists the average “silver” plan on the exchange as costing individuals $321 per month. That’s an 80 percent increase — or even more for those who still have the freedom to go without insurance and currently pay $0 in premiums. That freedom will disappear come January.”

“On Oct. 1, millions of Americans are supposed to be able to go online and acquire health insurance on electronic exchanges in the states where they live. But here is a question that is being increasingly asked by people in the insurance industry: What happens if the exchanges aren’t ready on time?”