Last Minute Sign Ups Bog Down Healthcare.gov Site - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Last Minute Sign Ups Bog Down Healthcare.gov Site

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It's the final day to enroll in a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act, if you want to avoid a penalty.  But the last minute rush in Erie and across the nation, completely bogged the system down.

At Community Health Net, certified application counselors worked through the weekend helping people sign up and their efforts continued Monday. But the process slowed to a halt when the government website, www.healthcare.gov shut down in the early morning hours again at noon time under the load.

Erie's five application counselors and a certified marketplace navigator were booked all day with people who scheduled appointments for help with the enrollment process. And the phone at Community Health net has been ringing with others who waited until the end to sign up and need assistance too.

Certified Marketplace Navigator Michelle Robertson said some of those enrolling late are uninsured, some have had policies canceled, others are young adults. As to why people are having trouble completing the enrollment process?  "Sometimes people are just getting frustrated because they don't really understand all the questions," said Robertson.  "I had a woman call who said she spent hours Sunday night and she still was not able to get through the whole process."

The counselors told us there's just not enough time left to assist everyone. And the slowdown of the system didn't help.  Ivonne Villegas was assisting one client for two hours and still couldn't get her in.  "Right now it's almost 12:00 PM, I started with this lady at 10:00 AM, I have been able to create her account but we can't get in to do anything else," said Villegas.  "Right now I've called marketplace, they have me on waiting for twenty minutes to see what's wrong with her account, I think it's locked."

Former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, who helped sign the measure into law is pleased that millions more have health care coverage but says there's no excuse for the technical issues.  "I mean, obviously I'm really frustrated with the computer side, the technical side...that is something that should never have happened and as someone who voted for the law that's extremely frustrating," said Dahlkemper.

For a couple of stretches today the website stopped taking applications completely.  If you want to enroll and can demonstrate that you started the application by midnight, you will have that two week extension to finish.  And you will need to pay the first premium by April 28.  If you don't have insurance, there will be  penalties to pay. 

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