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HealthBeat

With the Obamacare website still not working, navigator organizations focus on education

Some New Hampshire residents interested in enrolling in the new health insurance marketplace are still waiting to hear whether they are eligible for subsidies and tax credits toward the cost of coverage, having used a paper application to circumvent a slow and glitch-plagued government website.

The website is supposed to be one way many of the 170,000 people without insurance in New Hampshire can get health insurance through the new marketplace – the main goal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Under the law, people without health insurance as of March 31 face a fine.

New Hampshire opted not to set up its own insurance markets. The site is being run by the federal government, which also provided grant funds to train people as navigators and assisters to help walk enrollees through the application process.

Since Oct. 1, staff members at Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin have met with 92 residents about enrolling for coverage through the new marketplace, said Brandon Gilbert, outreach and enrollment assister. They have tried with two people to go through the online application process but couldn’t get through either time. The federal site wasn’t working properly as recently as yesterday morning, when he tried to apply using his own information, he said.

If the website worked as designed, when an applicant entered his or her income information, they would receive immediate feedback on whether they are eligible for financial assistance, and if so, for how much. Instead, Gilbert and other navigators have given people paper applications to complete and mail to a processing center, which is supposed to mail the applicant back that feedback. Gilbert said he has asked residents to call when their eligibility packet arrives; so far, no one has called.

(The Kaiser Family Foundation developed an online calculator that determines subsidy eligibility based on state of residence, income and family size. It’s available at kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/.)

Gilbert and another Berlin health center staff member were trained through the BiState Primary Care Association, which has 11 navigators and 10 consumer assistance application counselors across the state.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England trained seven existing employees as navigators and has hired and trained three new staff members, said Jennifer Frizzell, policy adviser for the organization.

In the first week of enrollment, one navigator in Manchester had 45 appointments with people interested in the program, but she wasn’t able to enroll anyone online because of the glitches, Frizzell said, at a meeting earlier this month with the state’s Health Exchange Advisory Board.

Navigators there are using the paper applications as well, but they are not telling people to submit them. Instead, they are using the papers and appointments to educate people about how health insurance works and the terms they will need to understand, such as premiums and copays, and how the tax credits and subsidies will work, Frizzell said. The navigators then schedule a follow-up appointment for people to return later this month, she said.

The largest frustration for the people Gilbert has met with in Berlin is hearing that he can’t yet give them an accurate estimate of their potential costs, he said. And he also hasn‘t been able to find information about specific plans’ cost, he added – neither on the federal site nor on the website for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is selling the plans.

“A lot of people really would like to do the online application,” he said. “We’ve been taking phone numbers and telling people we’ll definitely get back to them when the website is working better.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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Legacy Comments22

The Tech Firm CGI that is responsible for the ACA has quite a resume. State Of VT paid them 84 Million to set up their exchanges and so far CGI has missed 21 deadlines. Ontario Canada paid them 46 Million to set up a Registry for Diabetes. The System had numerous delays, was obsolete and was cancelled. CGI also had issues in Hawaii setting up a delinquent tax registry. I guess I was not far off when I said the Webmasters were from ACME.

Ed-u-caaaaaaa-shun. Yes, that is always the answer to any progressive movement, initiative or in this case boondoggle. They can't get a website right, that is far easier than delivering health care. I am so glad for the glitches, it just exposes how inept this government and this failed health care reform piece is. Obama is "mad" too, he said so, even though Barry, Malia, Sasha and Michelle will never have to experience the pain of Obamacare. They will continue to live high off of the hog with premium health care.

You fail to grasp the reality that healthcare is not really a driving concern for any of our congressmen either. For that matter, it is of little concern for the truly rich either. Personally for all the disastrous implementation "glitches" we see, it is apparent that the private sector contractors are more than happy to promise the world and deliver only a sandbar. For every dollar of bloated government waste, there is a private sector entity more than will to pocket that money. You think the millions spent or wasted on the ACA software is obscene, just look at trillions of wasted dollars given to defense contractors - now that is scarey. That has been going on for decades with no voter outrage, funny how the GOP complains about social spending. That doesn't even amount to a drop in the barrel compared to defense waste.

Basically the ACA website is a disaster according to the NY Times. You know that Liberal Rag that loves to promote denial and blame everything on the right. Well, evidently they are fed up with the incompetence in WA now, finally. This article describes how 5 million lines of code on the website need to be repaired. Now we are also hearing that young folks who are tech savy are fed up with the website and will not sign on. Mainly because they cannot get through. Deny all you want, but for many, when the website is such a mess, it does make folks a bit frightened about giving their information on line, so hackers can steal it. No faith in the website that it will even protect your information. That is reality, not politics. This is not the CM changing their website folks, it is all your info being at risk. Ask someone who has experienced identity theft. The ACA is a gold mine for hackers. Use at your own risk should be a warning on this website. Yes websites have glitches, but 5 million of them is quite a record. Sounds like the govt used Acme Tech Systems to create their website. Beep Beep.

So much fun to watch the Usual Suspects whining and being proven wrong over and over again. I will sit back, grab some popcorn and a cold one and enjoy the show. ObamaKare Train Wreck take 2.

Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone: “My prediction is that the December 15 drop dead date will come without these problems solved. The Republicans offered a lifeline. Make the individual mandate optional.”...Today the white house hinted that they will extend the deadline just like the 17 other non constitutional changes NObama made

So the idea of 30 million people not getting health care is so enjoyable to you?

Miss misinformed speaks again here is an article form the Washington Post (not a conservative newspaper) saying 30 Million people will go uninsured after ObamaKare. I predict that it will be a lot more than 30 million because ObamaKare is very very poor quality for a very very high price. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/07/obamacare-leaves-millions-uninsured-heres-who-they-are/ This is like a cat and a mouse stuff. It is way too easy to to refute the liberals. ObamaKare is a huge failure and it is so much fun to see the liberals flailing around.

If you want to find out how this website is doing, don't watch Faux News. Sean Hannity had on a bunch of fakers that pretended to try to get on and said they couldn't. if this ACA is such a disaster, why all this lying about it, why not let it rise and fall on it's own merits? And they call it "News", what a joke.

WOW. I guess ignorance is bliss. I am sure Fox News hire fakers to lie to the public about not being able to get on the ACA website Tillie NOT If you believe anybody on this forum is not telling the truth prove them wrong. I have not seen you do that yet.

Actually Rabbit, yes they do. You would not have heard about it because Fox is not going to rat out themselves. Reliable Sources, CNN, I am sure you will shoot the messenger but it doesn't change the message.

"New Poll Finds CNN Far Less Believable Cable Channel Than Fox News....... The survey, which was conducted by the liberal Huffington Post website and the international marketing agency YouGov, determined that former titan CNN came in as far less trustworthy than Fox News over which was the most believable cable news channel." This may explain Tillie's daily bumper sticker quality incorrect rhetoric

How about those navigators who have committed crimes and are protesters and trespassers? Why don't we just turn prisoners out into the community to be "navigators"?

Or...you could just read the headline of this article. Pretty sure it says the same thing FOX news said.

What Tillie reading the Headline when sticking her head in the sand works better.

Or she could've watched another "news" anchor - Jon Stewart, completely eviscerate the Obamacare website mess the other night on his show - it was HILARIOUS! And unless I'm mistaken, he's not on the same "team" as the FOX News folks.

Nothing in the comment section but right wing extremist propaganda. There's nothing wrong with ACA. There is a problem with the web sight. I find it suspicious that the screwballs in congress furloughed the IT workers the day ACA was rolled out.

Its right wing extremist propaganda to ask how much it cost and how much to fix it? Sounds like you have your own problems with your left wing conspiracy theory going on there...

care to explain the math to us right wing extremists? What the left wing extreme liberals told the USA was that they can add 40,000,000 new people to the insurance rolls - not add one single new doctor - and do it for $2, 500 less per family. How is that working out for ya all?

Wow, ObamaKare is 3.5 years old and the Government shut down on October 1 which is when ObamaKare was to start. It has nothing to do with IT people. Finally President is responsible for how the money is spent so your claim about congress is bogus just like most of the liberal claims on this comment section.

to paraphrase NObama and the democrats as the citizens gawk at the train wreck aka ObamaKare....nothing to see here folks - keep moving along. ......... FYI - we warned you

Maybe you could do your readers a favor by telling them how much this website cost. And while you are at it, you might ask how much its going to cost to fix it.

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