Washington health exchange needs 171 more fixes

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SEATTLE — Officials at Washington's health exchange said Thursday they're making progress on fixing the computer problems that have kept thousands of people from using their new health insurance.

At a meeting of the Health Benefit Exchange Board, the agency's associate operations director reported that nearly 7,700 people have had their payment issues resolved. Bob Finnegan did not know how many accounts they represent.

The exchange has reported billing problems with about 6,000 accounts. Most of those accounts include multiple members of one family.

Finnegan says the problems have been fixed through a combination of things. Some were resolved by going account-by-account and manually correcting entries. Others were corrected through software fixes.

Another 171 code fixes are scheduled to be made within the next few weeks.

For the past seven months, the health exchange has been trying to solve billing problems caused by a combination of software issues and human error.

Some people aren't being properly credited by the exchange for their insurance payments. In some cases, money and information has been lost somewhere between the exchange and the insurance companies. And some people have been told by their doctors that the insurance company has no record of their coverage.

Last week, state officials agreed to allow some people to work around the problems by paying their insurance companies directly. In order to do that, however, they need to call the exchange first and report their problem.

Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka has promised to make significant progress in fixing all the problems by the end of August.

Finnegan said on Thursday he would consider their efforts successful if they are able to make all the software coding fixes.