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Health Care Website Still Down, With Consequences For Ohio’s Uninsured

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As the fiasco continues in Washington over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, technical problems are still plaguing health care dot gov. Lewis Wallace of Ohio Public Radio member station WYSO talked to one Ohioan who’s struggling to get enrolled.

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

As the fiasco continues in Washington over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, technical problems still plague, the website that was supposed to be the law’s easy one-stop shop for subsidized health care plans. Enrollment numbers released last week were disturbingly low, with just 27,000 enrollments through the federal site in the first month after its Oct. 1 launch.

Meanwhile, an unknown number of people across the country are still trying to get enrolled and facing an onslaught of technical troubles; in just the first few days millions visited the site. In Ohio alone, 1.5 million people without health insurance make up the website’s potential users, but reports of successful enrollment have been scarce. Enrollment numbers are significantly higher in states that chose to set up their own exchanges; most of those websites are up and running, and Kentucky’s state-run program reports it has enrolled over 40,000 new people since Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has promised a fix for the troubled website by the end of November. Open enrollment for health insurance lasts through March 31, 2014, and most Americans will be subject to a tax penalty if they don’t enroll for insurance by that date.

Listen to one woman who’s still trying to get enrolled:

At a community center in Dayton, a health insurance navigator types out Maxine Johnson’s email information on a laptop.

MJ: I’m very excited about having somebody to help me.

Johnson works as a cook, and she recently found out her work hours and benefits are being cut. So, she’s been trying for weeks to get Obamacare for her and her two kids.

The first time she called the 800 number…

MJ: The system was down, and they gave me another number to call the next couldn’t get through, you couldn’t get through. So one time I called real late at night, and still couldn’t get through.

Now she’s on her third try with the website. Which, it turns out, is down.

But Johnson’s not pointing any fingers. She just wants a health plan, ASAP.

MJ: All I really want to do is get on a good one, get it over with, and still have my doctors that I’ve been having for years.

Johnson will be back next week to try again to sign up on healthcare dot gov.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has promised a fix by the end of the month.

For Ohio Public Radio, I’m Lewis Wallace.

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