Siouxland Administrators Struggle to Enroll Applicants for Federal Marketplace
SIOUX CITY, IA —
"Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed," said President Obama Monday morning.
The technical glitches with the federal online insurance marketplace aren't letting up, even after changes to the system.
Certified marketplace counselors have been struggling to enroll Siouxlanders.
Essentially, they can't work with people, even though 42 percent of applicants say they'd like some assistance, according to a University of Iowa study conducted for the Iowa Department of Health.
With the website still full of technical problems, people feel more comfortable going to the Siouxland Community Health Center for help.
But when they get there, they can only leave their information on a card, so that if the website does work, they'll be in line for help.
Since the 21 days of the launch of healthcare.gov administrators at the Siouxland Community Health Center are taking more detours than expected.
"I don't think anyone really anticipated that the website would not work, said," Betsy Arsce, outreach & enrollment certified application counselor.
This means the complications of the process weren't anticipated either.
Typically, a person looking to get signed up would come to the Center and later meet with a certified counselor, like Arsce, but then applicants reach roadblocks.
First, applicants are able to get to the healthcare.gov login page. Afterwards, some are able to start an account and enter their personal information to apply; however, once that's complete, suddenly a screen pops up which says your account can't be created.
After, you've hit that page, you have two options: calling by phone to apply or using one of three applications, all of which may take further assistance.
"I've handed out some of the paper applications and people have come back to me and said they needed assistance in getting them completed because it's just too difficult," said Arsce.
The alternatives are almost as ineffective as online enrollment, which may not run smoothly for weeks, even months according to tech experts.
"This is a system that was rushed out much too quickly and they didn't have a chance to thoroughly test the system and find all the problems before it went into operation," said Senior VP at CAST Software Bill Curtis.
Siouxland administrators are hoping operations are up to speed by Wednesday when federal officials say the website will be functional and ready for enrollment.
As of this Monday, only 16 Iowans have enrolled in the federal website for one of the insurance companies participating in the exchange.
By 2014, the federal government won't manage the exchange... instead Iowa plans to transition to a state-run model.BEdme@siouxlandnews.com