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Enrollment Web site swamped, agent says

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 10:22 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 2:56 PM
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Daniel Haynes was among those who went Tuesday morning to Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace to try to enroll in the state Health Insurance Marketplace, only to find that the Web site for enrollment wasn’t working.

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Navigator Terri Gant (left), the community outreach manager for Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace, talks to Betty Harris about the health insurance exchange's enrollment process Tuesday morning.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Navigator Terri Gant (left), the community outreach manager for Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace, talks to Betty Harris about the health insurance exchange's enrollment process Tuesday morning.

“I don’t have nothing,” said Haynes, 62, who had Medicaid after a stroke in 1999 but said he has since been cut off. “I can’t even get my medicine.”

Navigator Terri Gant, the community outreach manager for the clinic, found she eventually could get an account and password set up but could go no further. She ended up taking names to call people back when the system was working or to sign up people for classes on enrollment that the Community Health Clinic will hold Oct. 7 and Oct. 10 at the Augusta library main branch, 823 Telfair St.

“That’s why I didn’t want to hold (the classes) this week, because I knew everyone was going to be on the system and it was going to deadlock,” Gant said.

For three hours from the time open enrollment began at midnight, Augusta insurance agent Russell Head tried to get through at healthcare.gov to check on the plans and subsidies, but had no luck.

“Three of us who are certified brokers have been unable to log in; we’ve gotten maintenance errors; we’ve gotten program errors, basically telling us to come back later,” said Head, a partner at Group and Benefits Consultants Inc. “Basically, you just can’t get in.”

Nor can people reach the exchange plans by going through the Web sites of the insurance companies offering plans on the exchange, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield or one of the private exchanges, Head said.

“You can’t go direct, you can’t go indirect, and get access to the information that we need,” he said.

Even when they tried to use the site’s Live Chat feature, it took 22 minutes for someone to come on and say that, essentially, the site is swamped by the traffic, Head said.

It is not, in his mind, because the federal government is in partial shutdown. Even before that, the site was plagued by glitches and errors, and the training modules needed to get certified were full of problems that delayed certification for many brokers, Head said.

“We have been predicting for quite some time” that would happen, Head said. “If you can’t handle the agents and brokers across the country, how are you going to be able to handle the millions of people that want to get educated and understand what the plan designs look like and what the rates look like?”

In fact, it might be a good idea to wait until later in the month at least to try to sign up, Head said. In a meeting with Blue Cross earlier, he said, the provider told him it wouldn’t be able to post its network providers or the formulary of which drugs it will cover until Oct. 15.

“So somebody would be foolish to go ahead and sign up at this point in time anyway without truly being able to evaluate (the offerings in the exchange),” Head said.

Still, Haynes said he had been hoping Tuesday might be the day he got health insurance or at least saw what his options were.

“That would be nice,” he said.

Help available

• Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace will be holding sessions on enrollment in the state Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act from 9 a.m. to noon Monday and Oct. 10 at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, 823 Telfair St. The clinic asks that you call to reserve a spot because there is a limited number of computers available. Call (706) 790-4440or e-mail tgant@mapbt.com.

• Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism and Rural Health Inc. will hold a presentation on the Affordable Care Act at 10 a.m. Oct. 16 at Aiken County Recreation Center, 917 U.S. Highway 1, Graniteville. For more information, call (803) 663-6142.

Comments (15) Add comment
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TakeAHike
186
Points
TakeAHike 10/01/13 - 10:35 am
1
9
You're the problem

If you have insurance you shouldn't be trying to access the exchanges. These rubberneckers of the information highway are causing a DoS attack on the website and shutting out the legitimate consumers who don't have insurance and need to use the website. Get off the site, idiot!

carcraft
25191
Points
carcraft 10/01/13 - 11:32 am
10
3
REALLY!

TakeAHike, how do you know what is causing the problems? Seems like these types of problems have plagued the whole system, did you you read the article? Suppose I have insurance but want to see if I can get a better deal on the exchange? I can't check it out? Why do you think Obama has delayed, issued waivers, etc.? It seems like most of Obama care is full of glitches. Maybe some one in government will get their act together at some point and figure out this is a disaster !

jack234
719
Points
jack234 10/01/13 - 11:33 am
3
9
I'm not surprised the site is

I'm not surprised the site is swamped. People are really excited about the new Health Care Act. Just be patient, you have until the end of the year to sign up. Now the republicans want to work out the glitches. Why didn't they want to do this before? Backed into a corner? the people love this act much to the dismay of republicans and Rush. Time to move forward, not backward to the days of the confederacy when many people like Jeff Davis were guilty of treason.

Tom Corwin
9225
Points
Tom Corwin 10/01/13 - 01:11 pm
5
0
Jack234

Open enrollment under the new Health Insurance Marketplaces runs through March 31, 2014. You have until probably mid-December to enroll if you want the coverage to start Jan. 1, the earliest it can begin.

KSL
126361
Points
KSL 10/01/13 - 07:23 pm
5
2
Of course it is fraught with

Of course it is fraught with glitches. It's the government, isn't it?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7387
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 10/01/13 - 08:06 pm
6
2
Navigators

Is this Navigator licensed by the State of Georgia. That is the state law!!! As I understand it there is only 1 in the entire state that is licensed. How can someone with a 20 hour course tell anyone which plan will be best for them? Insurance agents spend months of training and testing and then have ongoing continueing training to maintain their licenses.

fedex227
11179
Points
fedex227 10/01/13 - 08:21 pm
3
5
Amazing.
Unpublished

I was just able to log on and view a variety of plans with no problem. Perhaps some should upgrade their Windows98 systems.

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 10/01/13 - 08:30 pm
4
0
The pre-existing condition

The pre-existing condition part doesn't begin till Jan 1, 2014 so right now they aren't set up for that yet. Good thing we have till March 31. I wonder if people who put in misinformation will get caught or is this just a free for all? I'd love to find cheaper insurance without high premiums and high deductibles as we have paid for private insurance for 12 years. Even without a subsidy the more people sign up the premiums should decrease?

KSL
126361
Points
KSL 10/01/13 - 08:30 pm
3
2
fed

Do you know for a fact that people having trouble trying to log in were running old windows?

Are you saying the navigators would be provided outdated equipment? See above article.

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 10/01/13 - 08:32 pm
3
0
It could be that certain

It could be that certain folks are intentionally having problems to discourage them from joining (conservatives and Rep) and progressives and moderates are given preference. LOL>

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 10/01/13 - 08:34 pm
3
0
Anyone with private insurance

Anyone with private insurance will likely at least examine their plans. How many actually join, especially young folks remains to be seen.

KSL
126361
Points
KSL 10/01/13 - 09:56 pm
3
2
Biz

Are people getting stupider or are parents and schools failing? Or both?

I actually like the non word rather than more stupid.

KSL
126361
Points
KSL 10/01/13 - 09:58 pm
3
1
It seems to fit "more

It seems to fit "more better."

KSL
126361
Points
KSL 10/01/13 - 10:06 pm
3
2
Or is that "mo bettr"?

Or is that "mo bettr"?

Young Fred
16616
Points
Young Fred 10/01/13 - 11:45 pm
4
1
This is news? Really? Let's

This is news?

Really?

Let's see … hmm problems with a government run site?

Go figure!!!

Let's put this together so all can understand.

Federal government …
Plus ….

Well, I can stop right there. Because “right there” is the very definition of inefficiency!

Assuming that most gov't workers even understand the true definition of inefficiency, is a pretty big assumption. But that won't stop them!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7387
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 10/02/13 - 07:04 am
2
1
It will fail

This is all predicated on young people purchasing these plans to keep it afloat.. How many people 26 to 35 purchase health insurance if their parents don't provide it or their job doesn't provide it? 20%? Not much more than that. That age group lives paycheck to paycheck and this plan is for them to carry the major load. I see a lot of them paying the penalty for several years rather than the inflated price, low service plans that this offers! In case you haven't noticed, we're becoming a "Failure to Launch" society. More young people are staying with their parents until they marry and marrying later in life. This plan will cost the Democrats a lot of votes when it hits the paychecks next year!!!!!

rmwhitley
5542
Points
rmwhitley 10/02/13 - 09:59 am
0
0
Ahhhhh!
Unpublished

obamacare!!!!!!!!!

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