This post was written by Ferd H. Mitchell and Cheryl C. Mitchell, Thomson Reuters authors and attorney partners at Mitchell Law Office in Spokane, Wa.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is continuing to struggle with the handling of information.

The federal and state Exchanges must provide user-friendly interfaces through which individuals may shop for insurance policies and find out how much of a subsidy will be available. If the interfaces are too confusing, individuals will make errors as they try to apply for coverage. Errors can also creep in when there are dealings with “navigators,” call centers, and other enrollment helpers.

And if the internal Exchange software contains processing errors, even the correct input information will result in contaminated output. Processing errors may be difficult to find and fix.

Information swapped with other federal agencies and insurance companies will be accurate only if the correct input information is provided and the swaps do not create new problems. Insurance companies and providers also have to make sure that their information swaps are of high quality.

All of these organizations often end up looking back to individuals and other groups in efforts to define and fix problems that develop.

A leading reason for these problems has been that no one is in charge of managing the entire information system. Rather, each organization is attempting to work its own part of the system.

As part of our activities for the “ACA and the Law” program operated by the Professional Development group at Thomson Reuters, we are looking at the impact of these processing errors on attorney practices. Trouble-shooting for clients will often require tracing information step-by-step through the entire system, to locate the problem areas and seek to have fixes made. Attorneys will often need to understand how the system works in the real world, to arrange for corrections to be made.

All of these issues—and others—affect how the health law is proceeding and how attorney practices are being affected. For additional resources on the Affordable Care Act and to order publications, visit the ACA resource page at

Ferd H. Mitchell and his wife, Cheryl, are attorney partners at Mitchell Law Office in Spokane, WA. They are active in elder law and health law practice areas. They have been working together on programs and activities on behalf of the elderly and in health care for over 25 years. During their studies, they have visited and evaluated the health care systems of Japan and several countries in Europe to learn how the needs of the elderly are assessed and met in other countries, and they have been better able to understand the U.S. health care system and related care issues from these visits.

Related posts:
The Affordable Care Act: Preparing for Year 2

Health care law: facing disruptive change

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