The Flow To Guide Thousands in Linn County Into The Health Exchanges

By Chris Earl, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - As users on the federal government's health insurance marketplace (www.healthcare.gov) endure delays since the October 1 launch, thousands of people in Linn County are targeted for a November 1 launch date to guide them into health insurance coverage.

"About 25,000 people," said Chris Juett of the United Way of East Central Iowa when estimating the number of people in Linn County who may not have health insurance or adequate coverage. "A study the University of Iowa did said about 39% of those folks would need come kind of assistance. We are hoping we have over 10,000 appointments available."

Juett said the United Way 2-1-1 Resource Directory would serve as the referral source for people to at least four different community health support groups:

- Linn Community Care
- HACAP
- Linn County Public Health
- Community Health Free Clinic

During an hour-long meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Tourdot, Affordable Care Act outreach and education specialist with Linn Community Care, took health leaders through the steps and the plan to make sure the estimated 25,000 people would have the necessary information.

"The biggest issue is getting the word out," said Tourdot. "In order for this to work, for our community to benefit, we have to get people through the first process and that's to get them enrolled so they can access health care here and in the community."

Actually getting people enrolled has been the major barrier since the October 1 launch for anyone signing up in the marketplace after the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period started.

On Wednesday, Tom Alger, of the Iowa Insurance Division in Des Moines, urged users remain patient and to remember "there is still time" until the December 15 deadline to obtain health insurance for 2014.

Overall numbers of confirmed Iowans that have successfully registered for insurance has been hard to pin down.

"At this point, we cannot say for sure if anyone has successfully signed up through the healthcare.gov website," Alger wrote in an e-mail to KCRG-TV 9.

One insurance carrier, CoOportunity Health said on Wednesday at least five Iowans have signed up for insurance on the HealthCare.gov website.

"It's very understandable that people are frustrated and we want to be sensitive to those people but I think the greater story to be said is the demand of people in this country and locally in need of health care," said Tourdot.
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