Siouxland Certified Counselors Face Final Healthcare Extensions

Mirroring the national statistics, local certified application counselors have also seen some growth in the numbers since the initial roll-out of the marketplace.

Siouxland News Reporter Beairshelle Edmé spoke with those counselors to learn how they handled Monday's deadline.

Counselors at both UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's and Siouxland Community Health Center told Siouxland News they faced some issues.

There were at least two shutdowns and a last minute rush of applicants.

Now, with much of the process behind them, counselors said they've learned a lot about the insurance needs of the community.

Siouxland has been no exception to the ups and downs of the federal online marketplace, especially Monday when the site crashed.

"It was so frustrating for us, just 'cause we had the time; we were ready-- we're able to jump and we had folks coming in. They were coming in from out of town from all places; they got here and all we could do is fill out a form,"said Patient Access Manager Traci White with UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's.

Despite that setback, those 15 applicants from Monday will receive an extension until next Monday.

Meanwhile, at Siouxland Community Health, counselors saw the same surge in applicants, following what was a slow process with paper applications.

"It was close to 550 individuals that we actually went on the website with; of that number, about 156 of them enrolled in a plan," said Betsy Arsce, a certified application counselor who's been helping Siouxlanders for months.

The other 394 either had to apply through their state Medicaid program, didn't qualify due to their income or didn't choose a plan.

Health advocates say that's an issue; many of those applicants won't receive routine check-ups and instead rely on emergency room visits, unless they have insurance.

"You know, it'll help doctor's visits, dentist visits, all kinds of visits that they have. So it'll be utilized for preventative care," said White.

Both certified application centers will follow up with all the applicants to complete their enrollment and to avoid the unhealthy outcomes of being uninsured.

Although most of the work for this year is done, counselors still have the next 7 days to work with applicants who tried, but couldn't complete the enrollment process.

As far those who didn't make the deadline and are uninsured, they will have to pay either a $95 dollar penalty or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

If your an applicant who still must complete your application, contact the Siouxland Community Health Center at 712-252-2477 or UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's at or call 888-275-5235.

If you have a story you want to tell or an incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about it. OR