UHIP incident backlog continues to climb as newlywed scrambles for health insurance

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The number of incidents reported in Rhode Island’s troubled new UHIP benefits eligibility system continues to climb, Target 12 has learned.

According to data provided by the R.I. Department of Human Services to the House Oversight Committee, the backlog of UHIP system incidents grew to 6,053 on June 8, up from 3,783 on May 10, an increase of 60%.

An incident is logged when a DHS employee encounters an issue or a problem with the system while trying to complete an application. Target 12 first reported on the growing incident backlog in May.

In an email, Alisha Pina, a spokeperson for DHS, said “the incident volume is growing because of our staff’s hard work to aggressively reduce the backlog of pending applications. In addition to the increased volume of work, we have directed our teams to report every single issue with the system that prevents them from efficiently processing an application. This information will help us better identify remaining fixes.”

Official data shows the backlog is falling. There are currently 8,117 pending applications within the UHIP system, an 11% drop in the month of May, according to DHS.

The $364-million UHIP system – short for Unified Health Infrastructure Project – turned into a fiasco after its launch last September due to major technical problems. Gov. Gina Raimondo eventually apologized for launching it too soon, and later announced a $27-million refund from Deloitte, the company that built the system.

Pina added that DHS officials “have insisted Deloitte come up with a plan to reduce the incidents to acceptable levels, which are in the process of being set, by September 30.”

Peter and Genesis O’Hara-Diaz can claim at least one of those incidents.

The Providence couple tied the knot on April 15, and Peter said he has been trying ever since to add his new husband to his health insurance through HealthSource RI – unsuccessfully.

“As a result of the marriage, he lost both his disability and his health insurance which we knew was going to happen,” O’Hara Diaz explained. “It wasn’t a big deal. We were already prepared after we got married to go to HealthSource RI and add him to my plan.”

But it’s been two months, and Genesis is still uninsured.

“This is supposed to be the honeymoon period and we’re battling with every agency in the state of Rhode Island,” O’Hara Diaz said. “They just say, we can’t do anything for you! It’s very frustrating, and it’s nerve-wracking because he’s not taking medication that he should be taking.”

After Target 12 contacted DHS about the O’Hara-Diaz case, the couple said they were contacted and informed Genesis’s insurance will take effect Thursday. Pina said the agency could not comment on individuals but said officials were working to address any delays.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.