Local Obamacare officials upbeat, despite rollout glitches
Mon, 21 Oct 2013 21:41:04 GMT —
On October first, Obamacare's online insurance exchanges opened up with great expectations. Instead, there were major technical problems.
The Department of Health and Human Services spent $500 million to build the website and the department has acknowledged the site has bugs.
So far, 19 million people have logged on, only to find confusing error messages and long delays and time outs.
President Obama acknowledged Monday that the launch has not been smooth, but he insisted that the health care law is about more than just a website.
"There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process and I think it's fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am, precisely because the product is good. I want the cash registers to work, I want the checkout lines to be smooth, so I want people to be able to get this great product," Obama said.
The website rollout has been frustrating as well for local officials working with the program, but they say they're still upbeat about the new health care law.
As a counselor for the Affordable Health Care Act, Jessica Doyle spends her days at the Little River Medical Center helping people enroll in the new healthcare marketplace.
She has suffered through the same frustrating delays as everyone else who's tried the website, but says she's still a believer in the healthcare law.
"There's other options out there for people who before weren't eligible for any kind of health coverage or couldn't afford it, so it's been good for a lot of people," Doyle said.
So far, officials say around 100 people in Horry County have enrolled in the marketplace, as they work toward a goal of getting 6,600 enrolled by March 31, 2014.
Given the news about the website glitches, officials say many people don't realize there are other ways to enroll.
"You can file the application either paper by mail, telephone or electronically. And it's the electronic application that everyone is experiencing problems with," said Celeste Bondurant Bell, spokesperson for Little River Medical Center.
Bondurant Bell says despite the problems, the medical center staff is optimistic about the healthcare act, and so are the patients.
"What has really been so positively reinforcing is the upbeat attitude of those we are assisting."
But South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley remains unconvinced.
During a visit to Myrtle Beach Monday, Haley said the rollout was chaotic, as she knew it would be.
"I think what we're going to see is, constituents are going to see rates are higher, co-pays are higher, services are down, and deductibles are higher, so from that standpoint, it's very tough to implement something that was never right to start with."
Haley says she believes Obamacare will fall of its own weight, but Bondurant Bell says people should just be patient with the program. The application process is getting better.
Bondurant Bell said federal officials are warning about scams targeting the program. The official website is Healthcare.gov. Anything else could be a ripoff, she said.