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ACA enrollment surge in Ohio, but many must wait

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

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Care coordinators constructed an inspirational billboard for people signing up at Neighborhood Family Practice.

Just as federal officials predicted, Monday was a crunch day for those enrolling in a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. Local coordinators say they were ready for the influx but, as we've been hearing from around the country today the federal web site healthcare.gov was not....ideastream's Sarah Jane Tribble has this Ohio snapshot.

A steady stream of people filed through the doors of a free clinic on Cleveland’s near west side.

But Leah Pallant, an outreach and enrollment coordinator at the Neighborhood Family Practice, expected many of them to leave without actually selecting a plan before the Monday midnight deadline.

“The web site is already in and out.... the number of people on the Web site really made it difficult to keep working because it basically just shuts you out entirely when they have too many visitors,” Pallant says.

Across the room, coordinator Jackie Mostow was working with Cleveland resident Callie Williams…

“Seems like it’s a little bit overloaded and it’s not letting us sign in to people’s accounts. So we can try, but what we might end up doing is trying to create an account and we’ll schedule you an appointment to come back,” Mostow says.

Williams says she hasn’t had insurance since the 1990s and is willing to wait a bit longer.

Joyce Jones, who works two part-time jobs, arrived at the clinic late Monday morning after trying to use the Web site on her own.

“Well, I pre-did it online and I didn’t like what I was seeing because as you look at the deductibles, all I can say is wow, because you have to pay all that before your bill even get paid. So, it’s like oh my gosh, it’s not a good thing,” Jones says. “So that’s why I chose to come in to talk about it and see if I can get a better plan.”

In Ohio, 83 percent of those who have signed up for plan on the exchange have qualified for financial assistance. And Jones will have more time to shop due to another late change in the rules.

Federal officials have said they will grant extensions to those who tried the Web site and couldn’t finish.

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