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Computer glitches, long waits on last day of Affordable Care Act enrollment

Monday, March 31, 2014 7:07 PM
Last updated Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 12:28 AM
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Over the cheery hold music emanating from Heather Hewitt’s phone, she and the Quick family sat Monday at a row of computers with various error messages on screen and bonded over their frustration with enrolling in the Affordable Care Act.

Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator Anne Fulcher, left, helps Jose Avila sign up for health insurance.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator Anne Fulcher, left, helps Jose Avila sign up for health insurance.

“It’s testing my faith right now,” Hewitt said. “But when you need something, you do what you have to do.”

Luckily for them and others who began the process Monday, the federal government will allow them to complete the process after Monday if it was done before midnight.

Asked how it was going, navigator Terri Gant, of Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace, picked up sheaths of sign-in sheets scrawled full of names.

“That’s how it is going,” she said, laughing. People crowded the room at Goodwill Job Connection when she began that morning and continued to trickle in through the afternoon.

With perhaps millions trying to beat the deadline Monday to fill in an application, the main web site – healthcare.gov – practically shut down.

“It’s very, very slow,” Gant said. Most people could access the site and create an account, but could go no farther. When Deann Quick got to a screen that allowed her to click on a button to “Learn More,” she hesitated.

“I’ve done this several times so I hope it’s not going to start me over,” she said. A quick click, and she was back at the beginning.

“It is,” Quick groaned. “It is starting me over.”

Both Hewitt and the Quicks turned to the toll-free number for help and were more than 30 minutes in when suddenly Tiffany Quick heard a male voice on the other end of the line. Then nothing.

“He was on and then he just ended the call,” she said.

Hewitt is a little more lucky. After more than 45 minutes, a lady came on and helped her and told her to try logging back in.

“She was very pleasant,” Hewitt said. She called out to Gant, “I actually spoke to someone.”

“Fantastic!” Gant called back from across the room.

But when Hewitt tried to log in, she got the same error message again. But she took it all in stride.

“I know about waiting,” said Hewitt, who is originally from Barbados. “Anything to do with the government, you have to wait.”

Gant was planning to be back today to try to enroll those who couldn’t get beyond creating an account, and Hewitt said she will come back.

“See you in the morning,” Gant said. “Thanks for your patience.”

In Clearwater, at the Margaret J. Weston Medical Center, they had already logged 200 calls by 4:30 p.m., said Director of Outreach Gail Diggs.

“A lot of people want to enroll today,” she said. “And they want appointments today.” But the enrollment specialists there were booked, actually double-booked, and all they could do for those people was get them to sign a paper application form that would allow them to continue the process after Monday. The slow, intractable web site and the calls were not a surprise, Diggs said.

“What do you expect at the last minute when millions of people are tying to do what you are trying to do,” she said.

Actually, computer glitches began Saturday night, cleared up briefly Monday morning and then returned with a vengeance later, said Anne Fulcher, a certified application counselor.

She began trying to create an account for Jose Avila, a janitor who said he was told by a friend at work to enroll because he is not offered health insurance through his job. He and Fulcher spoke through a translator as he handed her an ID and a Social Security card.

“Tell him the Web site is down, but I am going to try to get him an account,” Fulcher said, before staring at the ever-present error message, “Healthcare.gov has a lot of visitors right now!”

“Tell him he needs to come back because there are so many trying to get on,” Fulcher said.

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nocnoc
47423
Points
nocnoc 04/01/14 - 05:52 am
2
3
Its all Bushes fault ------- NOT!

THE LIB'S, SOCIALISTS & dare I say it?
YES, I will the DEMOCRAT PARTY ALLIANCE completely OWN this MESS.

Bodhisattva
6850
Points
Bodhisattva 04/01/14 - 06:21 am
3
1
The Modern GOP

The Republicans and the Tea Party have done everything they can to make it a mess. Not allowing Medicaid expansion. Not allowing citizens to qualify for tax credits. Forbidding state employees to help citizens follow the law of the land. The GOP signed their oath in blood to oppose anything the President did BEFORE HE WAS INAUGURATED. They and Tea Party ignored almost trippling of the debt under Reagan, and doubling of the debt under Bush ("You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."), but the old, the white, and the hateful began hissy fits when a black man was elected. They blamed TARP on Obama, though somehow it was signed into law on October 3, 2008. Party over country no matter what. If it destroys the US, as long as it made Obama look bad, go for it. Muslim? Kenyan? A pack of crazies with torches and pitchforks with no knowledge of history who believe nonsense from viral emails, a drug addled windbag on the radio, and a totally insane conspiracy theorist talking head preaching Mormon end time theology from the point of view of a racist slavery apologist, who tried to pass fiction off as history, and was so far off in right field even the Mormons tried to stop claiming him. The modern GOP. Evil and insane. Not a good combination.

dichotomy
36326
Points
dichotomy 04/01/14 - 10:13 am
1
2
Bod....."The modern GOP. Evil

Bod....."The modern GOP. Evil and insane. Not a good combination."

And yet they were 100% right about Obamacare's effect on the middle class.

You COULD NOT keep your insurance. It DID NOT bring the cost of health care down $2500. You COULD NOT keep your doctor. You COULD NOT keep your hospital.

Premiums, copays, and deductibles UP 50% to 300% on the WORKING MIDDLE CLASS who USED TO HAVE great insurance.

What makes Republicans so evil according to liberals? BECAUSE THEY ARE RIGHT!!!!!!!!

Truth Matters
7836
Points
Truth Matters 04/01/14 - 03:07 pm
1
0
The cost should come down as

The cost should come down as more people are insured and the cost of treating non-emergencies in the ER is no longer passed on to those who do have coverage. I do not expect that to happen overnight and nor does any other reasonable person. The US has among the highest cost foe medical care in the industrialized nations.

Regarding the claim of a "mess," every year the state of Georgia warns people not to wait until the last day to access computers during open enrollment. Some listen and some don't. Those who don't listen are caught in a cyberspace traffic jam just as some of the people in this article.

I couldn't keep my insurance because the governor made a deal (no pun intended) to allow a sole provider to offer plans. Thank goodness some teachers got to him to straighten out the mess he made. It did not hurt that this is an election year.

I have the same doctor and I will go to the hospital where he has admitting privileges. Simple as that.

corgimom
36830
Points
corgimom 04/02/14 - 10:30 am
0
0
My husband's provider changes

My husband's provider changes nearly every year, depending on who bids the cheapest contract.

This is nothing new, and people act as if the world as we know it is being destroyed before our very eyes.

And it's just plain silliness.

If the GOP opposes it so much, why didn't they come up with a plan of their own, when they had the majority?

corgimom
36830
Points
corgimom 04/02/14 - 10:32 am
0
0
"Muslim? Kenyan? A pack of

"Muslim? Kenyan? A pack of crazies with torches and pitchforks with no knowledge of history who believe nonsense from viral emails, a drug addled windbag on the radio, and a totally insane conspiracy theorist talking head preaching Mormon end time theology from the point of view of a racist slavery apologist, who tried to pass fiction off as history, and was so far off in right field even the Mormons tried to stop claiming him."

WHAT HE SAID.

It is very, very sad what the GOP has turned into.

corgimom
36830
Points
corgimom 04/02/14 - 10:37 am
0
0
Dichotomy, I'm middle class,

Dichotomy, I'm middle class, and ACA hasn't caused anything negative for me.

It is inappropriate to lump everybody into one group, millions haven't lost their provider, millions haven't had their premiums go up, millions haven't lost their hospital. In fact, our premiums went up only because we bumped up to the "gold" plan, and that was our choice.

Did it happen for some people? Yes, because insurance companies are private businesses, and have the right as to who they insure. That's what we want, right? Or do you think the government should've stepped in, which is anti-GOP?

corgimom
36830
Points
corgimom 04/02/14 - 10:45 am
0
0
But this idea of "keeping

But this idea of "keeping your health care insurance provider" is just plain nuts.

I've had Cigna, BC/BS, United Health Care. I don't care who pays the bills, just pay the bills.

I've had people tell me with pride, "I've had my car insured with XXX for 17 years." Or, "I've had BC/BS for XXX years." As if that means anything.

I'd get insurance from Billy Bob as long as I got the lowest rates. Who cares if you've been with a health care insurance provider for X years?

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 04/02/14 - 11:41 am
0
0
Corgimom @ 11:45

"I'd get insurance from Billy Bob as long as I got the lowest rates. Who cares if you've been with a health care insurance provider for X years"

First, cute dog! Did you take this picture??

It seems that we are seeing eye to eye on the subjects today! My wife and daughter have one of those policies that don't pay "until we have declared bankruptcy". (LOL) BUT seriously, if my wife and daughter can get GOOD health insurance for an "AFFORDABLE" price, we will most certainly do it!!

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 04/02/14 - 11:47 am
0
0
Article

"“It’s testing my faith right now,” Hewitt said. “But when you need something, you do what you have to do."

With all due respect to this family, why did they put off the process until the last minute??!! My wife predicted that this process would be the same as people return their tax forms!! I guess she was right! Who said you have to have special powers to predict the future??

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 04/02/14 - 11:58 am
0
0
General comment

I am old enough to remember a Charlton Heston movie intitled "Soilent Green". This process of waiting to the last minute meant that you literally had to fight to get some "Soilent Green". Soilent Green was made out of the dead people so it was a great source of protein. The point that I am trying to make is that people shouldn't wait till the last minute!! As of Oct., 2013, you should have decided about getting Obamacare or pay the penalty!! It is not rocket science nor brain sergury!!!!

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