Health care counselors sign few people up on new website

Obama acknowledges rocky start to ACA website

Published On: Oct 21 2013 06:30:37 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 21 2013 07:56:47 PM CDT
health care, healthcare.gov, generic, affordable care act
MADISON, Wis. -

President Barack Obama is acknowledging his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, is off to a rocky start thanks to problems with the program's website.

Obama held a news conference Monday morning about the trouble with healthcare.gov, the website set up for people to purchase insurance through new marketplaces. Some 19 million people have visited since Oct. 1, but only half a million have successfully applied and the White House won't say how many people have actually been able to select a health insurance plan.

"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 Obama.

Obama said IT experts are now working on repairs but he's not giving a target date for when the site will be fully up to speed.

Locally, health care counselors are trying to get people signed up for plans, but the website has posed challenges.

Jongsook Chee tried to navigate the site from home to get health care for the first time in a few years, but ended up at the Dane County Job Center Monday looking for help.

"I tried to sign up but it's not working," said Chee. "All the information I put in, but on the last step they say 'wait.'"

Waiting is what the Access Community Health Centers staff helping people at the job center have also been doing.

"There's the application submission and the eligibility determination and actually enrolling people into a marketplace plan," said Elissa Sprecher with Access Community Health Centers. "We have gotten as far as the eligibility piece of it, and we have helped one person complete an entire application."

That's one person out of the more than 150 that have come to the job center for help, although some of those have qualified and signed up for Badgercare.

So far, Chee isn't worried her health care will be held up.

"They try to prepare good but always bad things happen, right?" said Chee.

While Obama was also suggesting using an 800 number, the staff said that's also been time consuming for those they've tried it with, and users still have to wait until the site is up and running until they can officially purchase a plan.

Coverage is supposed to be purchased by Dec. 15, with a Jan. 1 start date.