Online enrollment stalls but interest remains

Two hours after she started trying to enroll online Thursday in the state Health Insurance Marketplace, Jacquelyn Jones was still in front of a computer screen that asked her to “Please wait...”

But she said she was not frustrated, even if others are when trying to use the healthcare.gov Web site to get information on plans and subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act.

“You’ve got to have patience,” said Jones, 38. “Some people don’t have patience.”

Ten days after the Web site went live to allow people to log in, find insurance plans and subsidy information, and then enroll, a number of glitches appear to prevent that from happening. The Web site, which is the vehicle to enroll for people in more than 30 states that refused to set up their own online marketplaces, is making mail look attractive.

Daniel Haynes was among a handful of people who showed up at an enrollment class at Augusta-Richmond County Public Library sponsored by Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace. He left with some forms in his hand.

“We’re going to mail the application in,” Haynes said.

Navigator Terri Gant, of Medical Associates, said the process can be done that way by mail but also through e-mail.

“It will just have to go back and forth until it is complete,” she said.

A couple of people in the class got so far as to enter account information and get a confirmation e-mail, only to get an error message that read, “Oops, you didn’t check your email in time,” even when they immediately checked their e-mail. They tried logging in again but the system wouldn’t let them.

Ana Crowe, an outreach worker for Medical Associates, got through to someone on the enrollment hot line.

“She’s going to ask one of her specialists,” Crowe told the class as she waited on the phone. “She said it’s a glitch and it’s one of the things that’s happening now.”

After getting a promise of a callback later, Crowe goes back to try and help the class. On her laptop at home, she said, she has the exact same error message waiting for her. Gant has also seen it before.

“That glitch has been in the system since last week,” she said. “That’s the same one I got stuck on.”

Catherine Youngblood, 63, has insurance but would like to see if there is something more affordable through the exchange. She asked a lot of questions and left with some forms and the promise of an appointment later.

“I’m going to follow up because I’d like to have the information before I make a decision,” Youngblood said.

Gant and Crowe do answer a lot of questions, including that there will be those who don’t earn enough to qualify for subsidies and likely won’t be able to afford the coverage. It is important for them still to go through the process and get a form that exempts them from paying a penalty for not having health insurance, Crowe said.

Some were also under the impression that because of the battle in Congress over defunding the Affordable Care Act that there is no money to continue, Gant assured them that grants to fund her and the other three navigators in Augusta have already been received and enrollment will continue despite the government shutdown.

And many people who are interested in getting information continue to call the Augusta centers, Gant said. Enrollment continues until March 31, 2014.

“We’re working until they say not to,” she said. “We have some issues but we are continuing to move forward.”

Patient experience more of a priority for hospitals
Georgia health centers push forward on Affordable Care Act
Affordable Care Act: Georgia premium rate variation is worst in nation
Affordable Care Act: State faces ‘navigator’ gap as exchange debuts
Help enrolling

Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace will hold an event to provide assistance in enrolling in the state Health Insurance Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Fellowship Hall of Belle Terrace Presbyterian Church, 2454 Golden Camp Road.

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