Health insurance signup slow-going

Website for enrollment remains jammed

Two weeks since the launch of new health insurance plans under the new health care law,  local clinics have yet to actually enroll anyone for coverage.

Blame it on website overload and continuing technical glitches that have plagued www.healthcare.gov since Oct. 1.

"The volume of interest has been really, really high," said Jessica Campbell, a certified application counselor at Communicare, which serves a large uninsured population.

Interest may be high, the the number of people the trained counselors have been able to enroll for a subsidized health insurance plan is zero.

"We currently have not been able to enroll anybody on the website," Campbell said. "So what we have been doing is, we have paper applications in Spanish and English."

It's the same story at CentroMed: no enrollments yet. CentroMed and Communicare received federal grants to hire and train certified application counselors to assist people through the enrollment process.

Blame the slow-mo on the jammed website, www.healthcare.gov

It's been crippled by heavy traffic as it saw 14.6 unique visits in just its first 10 days. Many shoppers are still unable to see the various plans being offered, the prices and the subsidies for which they qualify. Attempts Tuesday to log on got as far as white screen.

"Of course, it's a little frustrating, but we make do with what we can," Campbell said.

For now, they answer clients questions and assist them in filling out paper applications or calling in on the dedicated phone line.  

Once the applications are approved, the client will then receive a listing of possible health plans and subsidies.  

If they website is not fixed soon, the enrollment could be done the old-fashioned way, too: on paper.

The enrollment period continues through March. 

However, there are deadlines. For coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2014,  a person must enroll by Dec. 15.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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