Feedback
Health

Latest Obamacare Wrinkle: Adding a Baby to Insurance Not So Easy

Image: Kathleen Sebelius
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Susan Walsh / AP

There's another quirk in the Obama administration's new health insurance system: It lacks a way for consumers to quickly and easily update their coverage for the birth of a baby and other common life changes.

With regular private insurance, parents just notify the health plan. Insurers will still cover new babies, the administration says, but parents will also have to contact the government at some point later on.

Right now the HealthCare.gov website can't handle such updates.

It's a reminder that the new coverage for many uninsured Americans comes with a third party in the mix: the feds. And the system's wiring for some vital federal functions isn't yet fully connected.

It's not just having a new baby that could create bureaucratic hassles, but other life changes affecting a consumer's taxpayer-subsidized premiums. The list includes marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, even moving to a different community.

Such changes affect financial assistance available under the law, so the government has to be brought into the loop.

At least 2 million people have signed up for private health policies through new government markets under President Barack Obama's overhaul. Coverage started Wednesday, and so far things appear to be running fairly smoothly, although it may take time for problems to bubble up. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls it "a new day in health care" for millions of Americans.

—Associated Press