Schatz, Senators To Experian: Fix System To Allow Consumers With Credit Freezes To Easily Sign Up For ACA Health Care Plan
Senators Also Urge HHS to Extend ACA Open Enrollment Period. Reports Show Consumers With Credit Freezes Have Had Difficulty Enrolling Into Health Plans.
WASHINGTON – Following reports that some consumers with credit freezes are experiencing issues enrolling into a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of senators in calling on credit reporting agency Experian to work quickly to resolve the issue in their system so that consumers can verify their identity online and to waive any fees for consumers who choose to unfreeze their credit reports.
“We are troubled that, despite contracting with the Department of Health and Human Services to verify consumers’ identities, your system does not allow you to fulfill that responsibility for consumers who have frozen their credit report,” the senators wrote. “A credit freeze should not impact a consumer’s ability to verify his or her identity through HealthCare.gov. We urge you to work as quickly as possible to ensure that all consumers are able to verify their identity, regardless of whether they have frozen their credit reports. We also urge you to waive any fees consumers would incur if they choose to lift the freeze and re-freeze their credit reports.”
According to reports from Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have acknowledged that consumers cannot complete the online verification for enrollment if their credit is frozen with Experian.
In a separate letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the senators urged the Department to extend its open enrollment period, which will close after December 15, to give Americans more time to resolve any credit report issues and sign up for health care coverage.
“We are troubled that HHS failed to work with Experian during pre-enrollment planning or during the time the website has been shut down for maintenance during the course of open enrollment to address problems with identity verification for consumers with credit freezes in place,” the senators wrote. “HHS’s decision to cut this year’s open enrollment period in half has made these challenges worse. Because the number of credit freezes has increased in the wake of the Equifax data breach, this oversight may prevent consumers from enrolling in health plans through HealthCare.gov before the open enrollment period ends.”
In addition to Schatz, the pair of letters were signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
For a copy of the letter to Experian, click here.
For a copy of the letter to HHS, click here.