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Healthcare.gov was supposed to do more than just sign people up for insurance. It was also supposed to manage subsidy payments to insurers on the back-end of the site. But with the first enrollment period closed, that part of the site is still months from being ready.
The absence of the back-end technology behind healthcare marketplaces that have sprung up in all 50 states and the District of Columbia does not prevent consumers from enrolling for coverage through market portals such as HealthCare.gov.
Administration officials said the technology was set aside in the run-up to Obamacare's October 1 rollout, so that CMS could concentrate on the consumer features of the troubled federal website, HealthCare.gov.
CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille told reporters that technology for those functions would not be needed until January.
"The back-end financial management systems are something that we do not believe are essential until 2014 and we'll roll those out in those timeframes," Bataille said on a conference call with reporters.
But a program needed to confirm the identities, subsidy levels and coverage choices of individual plan enrollees would have to be in place in December, if coverage is to begin on time on January 1, said an insurance industry official who asked not to be named.