Managers of the new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services public exchanges may not have done much to prepare for situations in which the exchanges face severe technical problems.
A federal exchange enrollment manual posted on the Web includes just one paragraph discussing the procedures exchanges should follow if "natural disasters or serious technical problems" interfere with normal operations.
The authors of the manual refer to situations involving serious technical problems as "rare occasions."
The authors say of those rare occasions only that exchange managers would work with health plans to come up with alternative methods to transmit enrollment data in a secure fashion when the ability to transmit data in a standard electronic data interface format was not available.
HHS is running the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange programs in 36 states.
The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, the HHS arm in charge of overseeing the exchange program, developed the manual.
The manual covers topics such as the transmission of exchange plan "834 enrollment transaction" information and premium billing. An appendix gives definitions of terms such as "application filer" and "benefit year."