The Woodward News

October 2, 2013

Patience needed to enroll in health care exchange

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — The first day of enrollment application to the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace pointed out almost every glitch in the automated system as well as the service offered over the telephone.

According to market place representatives, the fact that the first day of open enrollment also took place on the first day the government was shut down due ideological grid lock within the Nation’s chambers of governance, also added to the problems.

“We are aware of the issue and are working to address it as soon as possible,” said a Department of Health and Human Services official in Washington.

“The online system is functioning with speed improving over time. The waiting pages and processing time are due to unexpectedly high volumes,” she said.

This reporter got on line at about 7:30 a.m. and began the process of applying for the coverage. The first two steps, getting to the site and setting up an account went smoothly. But when that was completed and the next step was to access the page where the application process began, the system went down.

A phone call to attempt a telephonic application took more than 30 minutes to answer.

According to the representative who finally answered, the market place was having a high number of people who were accessing the site and some could not access the site because of the high volume.

When informed that he was talking to a reporter who qualified for the insurance and that the reporter would share the information about herself and the public, he directed the call to a supervisor instead of simply helping enroll the subject in insurance.

That call was put on hold for another 5 minutes, then, disconnected.

A call to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was answered by a very helpful and polite person who indicated that “officials are working hard to get the site operational and answer requests for help and, please be patient.”

“We are thrilled that over 1 million people visited HealthCare.gov in the last day.  There were five times more users on the Marketplace website this morning than have ever been on the Medicare.gov at one time.  We have built a dynamic system and expect to speed up the system in the coming hours.  Consumers who need help can also contact the call center, use the live chat function, or go to localhelp.healthcare.gov to find an in-person assistor in their community,” the official said.