Glitches Still Causing Headaches on the Insurance Marketplace

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

WSIL -- Millions of Americans have checked out the new federal health insurance marketplace in the past two weeks. However, about 75 percent of them have found the website difficult to use.

The state website, Get Covered Illinois, has helped about 100,000 people learn if they now qualify for Medicaid or for the new insurance marketplace.

News 3 followed up with two people who were excited as the system launched. We found they are still having a hard time getting through the federal website.

"Nothing happens," said Tony Leone of Benton. "I've waited, waited, and waited."

Leone has spent hours of frustration trying to sign up for insurance on the federal healthcare marketplace.

"I want to get to the end result," said Leone. "I want to find out is it really affordable."

The 58-year-old lost coverage when his wife died early this year. He hasn't been able to afford a new plan because of pre-existing conditions.

"I want to be normal," said Leone. "I want to be a normal person, having normal insurance."

Leone is now stuck in the online process at the point where he should verify his income.

"Keeps on booting me out of the system just because it feels like it," said Leone.

The marketplace chat line isn't providing much guidance either.

"You'd think there's some politician at the other end answering the questions," said Leone. "It's so vague it's pitiful. Not very helpful at all."

Leone is not alone. Shawnee Health Service in Carterville has dealt with the many glitches on the new websites.

"There are certain days when we haven't been able to get through to the marketplace," said Director of Community Outreach Nancy Muzzarelli.

Because of technical issues online, only a few navigators on the team have been approved. That puts a limit on who can hold appointments with patients seeking coverage.

"We have at least three people that are booked pretty solid for the rest of October," said Muzzarelli.

One bright note for Muzzarelli is that the Illinois Medicaid website, ABE, is working.

"Most of our clients so far have been eligible for Medicaid, and we have been able to complete those enrollments," said Muzzarelli.

Muzzarelli also believes many people will benefit from the new insurance exchange once they are able to sign up. She hopes they won't lose faith.

"Be patient, keep trying," said Muzzarelli.

Patience is something Leone is still embracing.

"I'm trying to be very professional about it and very nice to get an answer," said Leone.

However, the worry and the setbacks are starting to take a toll.

"I'm afraid," said Leone. "I need to see my doctor. My family loves me."

As of Saturday, Get Covered Illinois says 14,000 people have been signed up for Medicaid. More than 600 people have also received approval to help people navigate the new system.
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