Saturday, Mar 8, 2014
Local People Find Improvements to Healthcare Website
FRANKLIN COUNTY -- The White House promised big improvements on the troubled Obamacare website this month. It appears those fixes are making a difference. Local residents and health groups are finding the site easier to navigate.
Last week, more than 3.7 million people visited the website. Even with that number of visitors, the site did not crash. Instead, it sent out emails asking some visitors to come back at a different time later that day.
The progress is an encouraging sign for people who have now spent two months trying to get through to the marketplace.
Tony Leone tried to be one of the first in October to sign up for insurance using the healthcare website. He went online, at all hours of the day, to wade through the glitchy system.
"Keep on getting booted out or the little circles keep on coming up that won't allow you to get into it," said Leone.
The Benton resident lost his insurance earlier this year. He faces a long list of health issues, but finding a doctor who will let him pay out-of-pocket has been tough.
"I'm an outcast to them," said Leone.
Leone's sign up had stalled on a section that needed him to upload his disability information. However, he got a surprise a couple weeks ago. That's when the website moved on to the next page. The page allowed him to finally see the plans and the prices. He's eligible for a tax credit of more than $500.
"It's only going to cost me $55 a month," said Leone. "I have a zero deductible."
He is now looking at a Gold Level option from Health Alliance and hopes to sign up to start insurance at the first of the year.
The progress on the website has also helped with enrollment at Christopher Rural Health. The organization has assistors at 13 locations across southern Illinois.
"The success stories, when you have them, they get around very quickly." said Social Services Program Coordinator Terra Hill. "People hear that the marketplace is working better."
Hill believes the organization has signed up hundreds of people for Medicaid and insurance. They hope to reach many more in the coming months.
"We wish we would have gotten a better start," said Hill. "But things are going well now."
The next big test for the health care website is the rush of people expected to sign up over the next two weeks. That's because the deadline is December 23rd if you want your insurance coverage to start on January 1st.
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