Experts at Town Hall Meeting Offer Alternatives to HealthCare.gov
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
MARION, Iowa - Technical glitches continue to hinder the new online health exchange as people try to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Those in Linn County are no exception.
Wednesday night, in Marion, people packed into a town hall meeting at the public library to get questions about the site answered by experts.
“About a week ago, I plugged it into my browser. Up it came and promptly told me to wait,” said Mike Crilley, a Cedar Rapids resident.
Crilley is one the thousands of Americans who’s had trouble checking his coverage options at the Health Insurance Marketplace, online at HealthCare.gov. The site has been dogged by glitches since startup. Some people can’t create accounts. Some can’t complete applications. Mike was plagued by long wait times.
“I opened up a few more other windows, waited for about half hour, 45 minutes and thought ‘I’ve got other things to do’,” said Crilley.
It’s enough trouble that others have decided to just avoid the system all together, until the government has fixed glitches. John Buckeridge, from Marion was one of them, though he wasn’t bitter about it.
“I’ve been in electronics for many years, so I know don’t go right the first day,” said Buckeridge.
Federal officials said they’ve started a called in top technical experts to solve the sites many problems, calling it a “tech surge.” Officials said they’ve increased the site’s bandwidth to handle more customers, improved the page’s architecture to make it easier to create accounts, plus they’ve squashed various software bugs.
For those still having trouble, and worried about approaching tax deadlines Iowa insurance officials said there is help.
“There are resources and there are alternatives available right now for Iowans,” said Angel Robinson, a consumer advocate with the Iowa Insurance Division.
Robinson said besides online, people can also apply for health coverage in the Marketplace through a paper application grabbed online at HealthCare.gov, over the phone at (800) 318-2596, or in person at Government agencies, such as State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Offices.
Even though Crilley hasn’t gotten through yet, he said he’ll stick with the website.
“I think I’ll just give it a rest and take another check every once or twice, every other week,” said Crilley. “It’ll happen when it happens.”
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