Health Care More | | | Editor

Augustans get help with insurance sign-up

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 6:56 PM
Last updated 11:28 PM
  • Follow Health

Charles Maddox walked into the classroom at the Augusta public library headquarters and pointed warily at the laptop computer on the table.

Back | Next
Three people attended an open enrollment workshop for in a computer lab in the administrative area on the third floor of the Augusta-Richmond County Library. Navigator Terri Gant (standing) works with Charles Maddox.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Three people attended an open enrollment workshop for in a computer lab in the administrative area on the third floor of the Augusta-Richmond County Library. Navigator Terri Gant (standing) works with Charles Maddox.

“I don’t know nothing about that,” he said.

Maddox, 62, represents a real problem in the quest to sign up people for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace: those who lack access to computers or lack computer skills, or both. But with some help he also represents one of the best outcomes: He will finally get regular health insurance and likely all of it will be covered by tax subsidies.

Maddox was one of a small group who showed up for in-person help through a session hosted by navigator Terri Gant of Medical Associates Plus@Belle Terrace. Unlike previous sessions, when computer glitches virtually shut down progress, federal officials have been touting recent fixes that should make it much smoother. In fact, 29,000 people enrolled on Sunday and Monday alone, a health official said Wednesday.

It was a different story during the session in Augusta, however. Many of those wishing to sign up need basic instructions in how to use a computer and basic functions like e-mail, Gant said.

“We get that quite a bit,” she said. “And the barrier is, with your more mature audience, you typically get those who are not computer savvy simply because they haven’t had to use a computer in their generation. A lot of them really are not interested. They’re intimidated by that.”

Many, like Jimmy Smith, needed to create an e-mail account so they could enroll. Even after about a half-hour, he was still trying to create an account. He got hung up on the security questions that are part of the enrollment process that could be used to verify his identity later. The Web site would not accept the answers he provided for a significant date in his life (his wedding day) and for a phone number, even though both were correct. So he picked different security questions and that seemed to work.

“You’ve got to think outside the box,” he said. But he ran into computer problems after creating the account and didn’t finish. Smith, a dishwasher at a Red Lobster restaurant, gets vision and dental coverage through his job but needs to get other coverage for his family. So he vowed to continue trying the next day.

“It’s all right,” he said, even as he was waiting for the computer to start cooperating again.

Maddox, who also lacked e-mail, switched to trying to create an account through the call center early on. A construction worker, he has been without regular insurance for about 20 years. He has diabetes so finding insurance coverage had been difficult. At one point he was facing premiums of $1,000 a month, which was not affordable.

That could all change soon. After about an hour, he was able to create an account, find out that he qualified for substantial tax subsidies and cost savings and was able to hear about his options at the Silver level, which would cover 80 percent of costs.

“Essentially, he won’t have to pay anything but one cent for his health care,” Gant said. “He was very excited about that. He got quite a bit of premium tax credit.”

But in the midst of the process, Maddox had to show some patience as he waited for the call center person to help him.

“You may have this thing running,” he told her, “but I’ll tell you, this thing is awful difficult.”

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services contributed to this report.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
southern2 12/04/13 - 11:45 pm
Funny thing I've noticed

Funny thing I've noticed since the Obamacare reset on 12/1 is all of the media examples of successful enrollees are getting very generous tax subsidies i.e. the redistribution factor on steroids.

What happened to the reports of millions of cancellations, website security risks, the total lack of insurance company payment mechanism, the corrupted data being forwarded on the applications, the skyrocketing rate increases being experienced by those responsible for their health care before Obamacare, and all those successful enrollees last month that were experiencing sticker shock at the price.

I understand it is easy for the enrollee to pad the numbers to increase the subsidy or maybe Santa bumped up the subsidy payout ratio to make it really more affordable and news friendly.

Sorry, I just can't trust the Liar in Chief.

southern2 12/05/13 - 07:39 am
How about a story describing

How about a story describing one of the backers of Obamacare signing up. Like maybe Chief Roberts, Reid, Pelosi, or Emperor Obama himself.

Riverman1 12/05/13 - 07:55 am
This is all about putting

This is all about putting tens of millions more on Medicaid with those who pay for their own insurance funding the Medicaid recipients.

seenitB4 12/05/13 - 08:09 am
Phone in

What happened to the call in feature?? I feel sorry for these older folks...they are under enough stress already.

Why didn't we just expand medicaid & leave the rest of this mess alone...

nocnoc 12/05/13 - 09:34 am
An who pays for those generous tax subsidies

the redistribution of wealth factor on steroids?

It is those that took the time to, get the education, to work the jobs and pay the taxes, all so some Socialist Politician can give it away for votes or to line his buddies pockets.

Redistribution of wealth has never worked.
It is only a Socialist/Communist Dream of 1 equal class.
All you have to do is looking around with your eyes open.
There people with more education all around you, and also people all around you with less education than you.

In every Socialist society on earth to date, there were and still are the ELITES and Leaders (Reid, Pelosi, or the clintons and Obamas) that have MORE than those, that they demand practice social equality, the underlings, the ones that actually pay for the redistribution of wealth.

The facts are, even in a Socialist Society people are NOT treated or cared for equally.

Besides if it giving away $$$$ worked, why do we have $17.2Trillion dollars of national debt? Is it because we spend more that can be taxed to pay for it without the citizens becoming Government 苦 力?

We have to face it, we are rapidly approaching a Government / Economic melt down. Socialism is NOT the answer, Fiscal Responsibility is. Cut Backs and balancing a budget are the only true answer. Giving away $$$$ does not balance a Budget.

But the typical feel in American is like,
Alfred E Newman, "What me worry?", I'll be dead let some one else pay for it.

Well I do worry about my Grand Kids.
Why should they pay for the wasteful spending of today's leaders
the next 80 to 100 years down the road or have to learn the new owners language, whatever that will be.

I want them to have a life with something like the freedom levels we had in the early part of my life, before government got its nose in to our everyday personal lives.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/05/13 - 09:53 am

This is crazy. So the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all Americans (except Muslim-Americans) to buy health insurance, and the Roberts Court says the act is Constitutional. Now we learn that the ACA web site requires a personal e-mail account in order to buy the insurance.

I'll bet Judge Roberts and the rest of the Supreme Court justices were not told that detail.

Call me old fashioned, but I don't think the federal government should be able to force all Americans (except Muslim-Americans) to have an e-mail account.

We learn in the story above that Jimmy Smith could not establish an e-mail account because he could not figure out the security questions for the login. Well, if the "navigator" were to fill out the questions for him, he could possibly buy the insurance with the navigator's help. But the very next day he would be helpless.

Scrap Obamacare.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BTW — Jimmy Smith was a great jazz organist in the 50s and 60s. Check him out on youTube.

raul 12/05/13 - 10:59 am
Three people show up for

Three people show up for assistance in enrolling in Obamacare. I get the impression that the target group of Obamacare, the uninsured , don't really seem to be that interested. They will continue to do what they have always done, just go to the ER when they get sick, and never pay a dime of the bill.

Sweet son
Sweet son 12/05/13 - 01:55 pm
What a Statement!

"He will finally get regular health insurance and likely all of it will be covered by tax subsidies." Meaning that we who pay taxes will pay for his insurance. Socialist America is happening right before our eyes and the dumb liberals aren't smart enough to realize they are giving away the futures of all of their children and grandchildren.

Just more entitlement!

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs