California insurance broker Jason Andrew planned to help a couple of his clients sign up for ObamaCare on Tuesday, the first day of the federal healthcare rollout, but couldn’t, for two reasons: First, he hadn't yet been certified by the state to do so, and secondly, he couldn't get accurate quotes from the state exchange’s computer.
Andrew just laughed it off: “Well, I guess we’ll have to reschedule.”
Others aren't laughing. Similar computer problems and logistical glitches across the country are sullying the launch of ObamaCare and, for the moment at least, confirming the suspicions of many about the federal government’s massive overreach into healthcare.
In Washington, D.C., people who are trying to determine if they are eligible for either Medicaid or subsidies to purchase insurance on the exchange will have to wait. In Vermont, the state’s exchange won’t be able to accept premium payments until the middle of November. In Oregon, only a few specially selected individuals will be allowed to go online in its “beta-test” to work out glitches before opening it to the public. In California, it could take a month before Andrew’s clients’ applications are even received by the insurance company they eventually decide to join.
Last Thursday the administration announced a delay in the online shopping system for small businesses while confirming a delay in its Spanish-language site. In Colorado, its exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, was forced to delay certain computer functions, and applicants will have to call a hotline to finish the process. As of last Friday, Iowa had no certified “navigators” — people trained to help with those hotline calls.
Reuters noted that a federally-operated exchange for consumers in 24 states began posting error messages almost immediately after it opened for business on Tuesday morning, while Maryland’s exchange delayed its opening for four hours and Minnesota estimated it would be later in the day before it could confirm its exchange’s connection with the federal database.
Tongue in cheek, Joel Ario, a healthcare consultant who used to work at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said, “Nobody is going to say we’re not starting on October 1. But in some situations you have seen a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.”
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