Archive for Monday, October 7, 2013

Obamacare enrollment slow in Lawrence thus far

October 7, 2013


Rosilyn Wells, a navigator in Lawrence for the Affordable Care Act, didn't have much luck getting into the new health insurance marketplace after it went online Tuesday. So she put off all her appointments with people wanting to enroll for this week. She's crossing her fingers the site will work by then.

"None of the navigators (in Kansas) have yet been able to enroll anyone," she said Friday. "The website is still bogged down. I don't think they expected the capacity they're getting."

An overload of visitors to in the first few days after the rollout of the marketplace has slowed down the application process for many Americans. Millions of people have reportedly attempted to access the site, which has been plagued by glitches. It's not clear how many people have succeeded in signing up for the new insurance plans. The site's operations were suspended over the weekend so officials could try to fix the problems, though call centers remained open. was expected to go back online Monday.

Officials tasked with implementing the 2010 health care law in Kansas, cautioned residents to be patient, because plans bought now don't go into effect until Jan. 1.

Despite the delays, some people in Kansas have been able to enroll in insurance on the marketplace, though no official numbers are available. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, one of the insurers offering plans on the exchange, confirmed that it has received electronic transactions from Kansans who had apparently picked plans from the insurer, according to company spokesperson Mary Beth Chambers.

"We do know that people have been getting through," said Linda Sheppard, director of health policy and analysis for the Kansas Insurance Department, adding: "But we have been encouraging Kansans to just wait, give it two or three weeks. The coverage does not become effective until Jan. 1 as long as they enroll by Dec. 15."

She also pointed out that since the state declined to set up its own marketplace, leaving it up to the federal government to operate it, Kansans are trying to sign up for insurance on the site at the same time as residents of the other 33 states that also refused to operate their own exchanges.

Sheldon Weisgrau, director of the Health Reform Resource Project in Kansas, isn't surprised there have been technical problems with the online marketplace. He has been warning for weeks that there would probably be glitches during the initial rollout of the site, which he has called a "giant IT project." In some aspects, he said, the delays are a good sign.

"I think the interest and the volume of people trying to get in and get information has exceeded everybody's expectations," Weisgrau said. "Whether that has been because outreach has been better than expected or people are more tuned in than we realize, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if the opponents making noise about this hasn't generated interest in it. It's like when people ban a book and it increases sales."

He added that he has "no doubt" a marketplace run by the state of Kansas would have had a smoother rollout. Kansas was one of six states that in early 2011 received a so-called early innovator grant to set up its own exchange. Sandy Praeger, commissioner of the Kansas Insurance Department, started working with more than 300 stakeholders across the state to design the marketplace. That effort was cut short when, in August of that year, Gov. Sam Brownback sent the $31.5 million grant back to the federal government.

Amanda Kong, an AmeriCorps member at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department who has been trained as a navigator for the marketplace, said she hasn't yet been able to sign anyone up for insurance because of problems with She did hand out one paper application, she said.

Kong has mostly been fielding Affordable Care Act-related questions from the public, such as whether people can turn down insurance through their employers and buy it on the marketplace (answer: They can, but they won't be eligible for tax credits unless their employer's offer represents more than 9.5 percent of their income.) She has even talked to parents asking insurance-related questions on behalf of their adult children (under the law, Americans can remain on their parents' insurance until the age of 26).

She also spoke to someone who makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid in Kansas — which declined to participate in the law's expansion of the program — and too little to qualify for tax credits on the marketplace. Kong had to refer the woman to Lawrence's two safety-net clinics, Heartland Community Health Center and Health Care Access.

In her first week as a navigator, Kong often has had to refer to her instruction materials to answer questions about the 960-page law.

"I have a giant manual," Kong said, though she understands why she needs it. "Our country's never done anything like this before."


FarleyM 4 years, 8 months ago

I would have thought Obama shutting down the Amber Alert computer, would increase bandwidth, so that at least one Navigator could sign up one somebody.

smileydog 4 years, 8 months ago

At least Michelle Obama's I eat tofu website isn't down. It's all about importance and priorities you know.

Sue McDaniel 4 years, 8 months ago

No surprise, no one still has read it or knows anything about it. Obama just wanted to pass a landmark piece of legislation, now everyone else figure out how to make it work.......

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

Ignorance and misinformation!

If you read the article, or payed much attention in general you would know that a sizable portion of this issue was caused by Brownie refusing to accept funds (to the tune of $45 million overall) to help implement and ease the transition of this process.

This is the GOP of today; obstruct, refuse to cooperate, fail, blame the President, let the ignorant vote them back in. Repeat.

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

So "Brownie" is now responsible for the failures of a federal program.

Heck of a job there, Brownie. Keep up the good work.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

He's responsible for the failure of the execution at the state level (which apparently is a good thing?) for a successful federal program. Now, if you'll read the article again - and I'll even repost the specifics here for you:

"Sandy Praeger, commissioner of the Kansas Insurance Department, started working with more than 300 stakeholders across the state to design the marketplace. That effort was cut short when, in August of that year, Gov. Sam Brownback sent the $31.5 million grant back to the federal government."

Using a slight amount of effort and reading comprehension, you can see the name 'Brownback' in the paragraph, and in the words that come before and after it, you can see the decision he made and using the rest of the article, find the results from his decision. This does, in fact, make him responsible for his decisions.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 8 months ago

Picture this: A country that doesn't force it's citizens to purchase a product from a private corporation that exists only to make a profit.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm...a country without insurance, no voter ID requirements, no roads, no regulated power grids, no central water services. It's a utopia I tell ya.

John Hamm 4 years, 8 months ago

Why don't you just blame Bush? This is BOs fiasco from day one.

stevieboy 4 years, 8 months ago

The Republicans and TeaParty people planted a bug in the computer system.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

stevieboy, what is your evidence that Republicans and Tea Party supporters have sabotaged the computers dealing with ACA?

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

I think he should call the cops if he has knowledge of illegal computer hacking. The journal world isn't going to fo arrest the republicans so the aca web site will work. O'm not even sure they can.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

In states that set up their own exchange marketplace, I imagine that things are going more smoothly.

Maddy Griffin 4 years, 8 months ago

They are. It's MUCH easier to deal with the crowd from one state than 33.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

The states that set up their own marketplace were overwhelmed by visitors, too. Being able to buy your own health insurance is a highly popular idea (surprise!)

People also may not understand that enrolling now gets them coverage starting in January, not coverage that starts right now.

This thing has taken way too long. Way too long. Personally, I wish they'd allowed people with jobs that provide insurance to still enter into the exchanges - that would force better coverage onto group plans and decouple work from insurance.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago


But, then those marketplaces are only trying to deal with the people from one state, rather than many.

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

Exactly. I expect them to be working faster and quicker and better able to roll with the punches.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

chootspa wrote "People also may not understand that enrolling now gets them coverage starting in January, not coverage that starts right now."

I have anecdotal evidence that is true. One of my best friends was convinced that he was going to be fined because he couldn't get signed up on October 1. Of course, that was because he has listened with one ear for these past few months to what was going to happen and what he needed to do, so his panic was essentially his own fault. Nonetheless, I believe chootspa's point is quite true.

bad_dog 4 years, 8 months ago

That is a frequent occurrence; not just on this article...

chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm assuming you've never bought concert tickets on opening day? A website behaving slowly is an indication that it is extremely popular, not an indication that the underlying idea cannot work.

elliottaw 4 years, 8 months ago

the only thing missing from your post is facts, good job UltimateGrownup

Shelley Bock 4 years, 8 months ago

I am very enthusiastic about the getting on the Obamacare website. I am also a realist and knowing that new programs are flawed in some ways that take time to remedy, I haven't bothered even taking a peak. There's time. There'll be opportunities. Why rush the system? Everyone wants to jump on it and assumes that it will work perfectly. And, if it doesn't, then it's a failure?

I can't believe or follow that logic. I'm just going to wait 30-60 days and let the kinks get worked out. Why all the doom and gloom? It isn't going anywhere. Let the computer geeks work out the bugs in the program. One day before 15 December I'll jump on board. That's the way I see how rational people will deal with the changes. Why must everyone be the first on their block to purchase it?

I'll be there, but I'm not rushing to be one of the first in line. I hate lines.

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

Is that a logical, sane response to all of the nay-sayers? Thank you. Roll out a website/program meant to service the entire country, & then bash it when it isn't working 100% correctly from the very minute it takes off? Give it a rest, we all know that isn't even reasonable. I cant say whether this thing will be a good idea or bad, but I'd say it's better than the R's approach of rhetoric & lack of action on the same topic. Even if it doesn't work, at least it is a starting point.

Richard Payton 4 years, 8 months ago

What happens if this server burns to the ground? Another crisis in healthcare records?

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

Check out the article just posted about the problems right here in our state w/Kancare. They are willing to allow for "inevitable problems" & for a "transition" period w/their own screwed up program, but wont concede the same for the ACA's initial problems.

Nikonman 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't think it would have made any difference if Kansas accepted the grant for the setup or let the Feds set it up. The website is new and problems are to be expected. As far as the ACA goes, I think the US House should just pass the budget, to include the ACA and raise the debt ceiling. After that it should sail through the Senate and on to the White House for signing. Enact the ACA as written and without any changes by the executive branch. Give the ACA a year or two to see how it flies or fails and if need be, take appropriate action. Hold those who pushed it accountable.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

What calumny is THIS? Fund a law passed by Congress, signed by the President, and found Constitutional by the Supreme Court? Voters to hold politicians accountable at the ballot box? That's radical talk, there. We tried that for over 200 years. Do you really think we'd be doing it this way if your way actually worked better? (This was sarcasm, incidentally.)

I think one thing should be clear to voters by now: elections have consequences. Send the wrong groups into office, and instead of compromise, you get gridlock. Actually, I think that we're in a worse place even than gridlock at the moment.... At the moment, the electorate is experiencing the consequences of its last several voting cycles. Our impressions of Congress are at an all-time low. I wonder if we see that, by electing the individuals we have, we have ourselves created these consequences...?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 8 months ago

No surprise that this republican rag would report this in big red headlines!

Clearly4Kansas 4 years, 8 months ago

Word out of a legislative committee meeting in Topeka today...."as of today, not one Kansan has purchase a health insurance policy through the exchange". Wow, we are paying 1.3 trillion for ObamaCare and not one single person from Kansas has signed up yet. My portion of my employer provided BCBS premium just went up 30%. Thanks Obama, you're awesome!

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

Regret to inform that I have lost such faith in the current legislature that I no longer accept anything said in their committee meetings, without verification of the facts stated by an independent, peer-review 3rd party. They have lost such credibility in my eyes that I even view the persons they allow to testify with skepticism, by mere association. Unfair, but true.

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

That's exactly how I feel about democrats minus the regret.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

My skepticism is not limited to a single party, there, Liberty.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

It can't be exactly how you feel, T_O_L mentioned using facts to make his decision.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 8 months ago

Did you think to ask J-W why they ignored you?

Julius Nolan 4 years, 8 months ago

Seems like we're getting an onslaught of links to useless, biased sites.

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