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Archive for Monday, October 7, 2013

Obamacare enrollment slow in Lawrence thus far

October 7, 2013

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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 healthcare.gov 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. Healthcare.gov 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 healthcare.gov. 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."

Comments

James Roberts 6 months ago

Since there are folks that are all about outing others for their mistakes, maybe everyone here here should google the name(s) of those doing the outing. I did, and there is some mighty fascinating reading out there. Nothing about mistakes, but much, much worse.

Enjoy your reading everyone, I think you'll be enlightened about just how these 'outers' act in the real world.

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Julius Nolan 6 months ago

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

1

Marley Schnauzer 6 months ago

Some things and some people never change.

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Kevin Groenhagen 6 months ago

I provided the J-W with information about Rosilyn Wells last week, but never heard back from them. So I contacted Michael Volpe with the Daily Caller and he has written an article that anyone considering getting help from Lawrence's "navigator" should read:

http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/14/obamacare-navigator-in-kansas-has-outstanding-arrest-warrant/

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Clearly4Kansas 6 months, 1 week 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!

5

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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Nikonman 6 months, 1 week 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.

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nick_s 6 months, 1 week 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.

3

Richard Payton 6 months, 1 week ago

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

2

Ray Parker 6 months, 1 week ago

The train wreck is here, folks. Now we know what was in the bill - disaster. Cut funding to the Marxist medical takeover. Starve the beast.

The beast

The beast by parkay

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Shelley Bock 6 months, 1 week 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.

4

toe 6 months, 1 week ago

Watching this fail will be fun.

1

Karl_Hungus 6 months, 1 week ago

Yo, if more Americans were against the ACA, then Mitt Romney would have become President....he didn't so sit back, relax and drink a tall cup of shut the heck up!!! It is a law and you don't take America hostage because you don't like a law.

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6 months, 1 week ago

The main goal of The Guv and other Koch-fueled Teapublicans is to ensure the ACA fails. They drag their feet, put up road blocks, probably initial DDOS attacks and do anything they can to try and make they system not work. Then, when they are successful, they say it's not ready for Prime Time. Pompeo is a perfect example.

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6 months, 1 week ago

The system can't count.

Four comments above this one, but the comment counter says 5 are above this one.

hmmm

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jafs 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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stevieboy 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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rlsd 6 months, 1 week 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.......

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FarleyM 6 months, 1 week 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.

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