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Feds Consider Changes To Enrolling In Healthcare Online
Feds Consider Changes To Enrolling In Healthcare Online

AIR DATE: October 14, 2013

by Kate Sheehy

Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began on Oct. 1. However, glitches in online exchanges, especially the one for the federally run marketplace, have delayed enrollment in many states.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports the United States government may redesign parts of its system to squash the problems. The 15 states, plus the District of Colombia, that chose to run their own exchange instead of using the federal one seem to be faring better.

Whether the exchange is state or federally run, many states have been facing challenges with outreach to diverse populations where languages other than English are spoken. States like Arizona, which is using the federal marketplace, did not qualify for grant money to support an expansive educational effort on enrollment.

On the other hand, states like California and Nevada are managing their own exchanges which has helped with outreach to minority communities. Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange is being guided by several organizations in the community that were awarded grant money to be trained as navigators and enrollment enlisters to help people sign up for health care.

But Nevada has not been without problems since Oct. 1. The launch of the Spanish-language version of the exchange’s website has been delayed until Nov. 15.  Andres Ramirez who heads one of the grant recipient organizations “Know You Care,” said the system may crash two or three times before an application can be completed. Ramirez says he expected problems and is patiently working through them.

“I’d rather go through the process and help people who want to enroll now, than tell them to wait,” he said.

Ramirez said all his staff was licensed, trained and ready to go by Oct. 1. Ramirez said his group has enrolled a little more than 100 people so far.  

Other groups aren’t quite there yet. Rene Cantu is the Executive Director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, another one of the grantees of Health Link in Nevada. He said his staff has not begun enrolling people yet, but they plan to start this Thursday at an open house. He said more than half of his members have passed the exam to be an enrollment enlister or navigator, but a few still have to be cleared. Both Ramirez and Cantu said they are not worried about the delay in the Spanish-language website. They said most of their staff are bilingual and can just as easily walk people through the process, translating as they go.

Nevada has the second-highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation. About 23 percent of the population is uninsured. The Associated Press reported that as of last Thursday, about 2,000 people in Nevada had submitted applications for health plans, of those more than 700 ended up buying a plan. 

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