The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services operates the website that launched Tuesday, but people anxious to find the costs of coverage and find a plan that includes a preferred physician or facility are given a screen stating the system is having technical difficulties.
“Please stay on this page…we don’t want you to lose your place in line,” the screen states.
Under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, nearly all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance or face a fine.
People still have three months before coverage can begin on Jan. 1, and the March 31 deadline to enroll is still six months away.
Jim Budzinski, WellStar Health System’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said he tried the website three to four times on Tuesday, and stared at the screen for five minutes before giving up on connecting to the network.
“It isn’t going seamlessly so far,” Budzinski said. “I think we are all frustrated with the technology gap.”
Budzinski said he wants to check the website for how coverage is allotted. Even as a hospital administrator, Budzinski said there has been limited information on specific plans that are starting to be offered.
“We are all learning,” Budzinski said. “This is an experiment.”
Georgia’s Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner received about 30 calls on Tuesday and around 50 calls on on Wednesday, with the majority of complaints about trouble logging on to www.Healthcare.gov, according to a spokesman for the commissioner’s office, Glenn Allen.
Allen said because the site is maintained by the federal government, the state’s insurance office is not informed about the glitches in the system.
Georgia is one of 26 states that has the federal government running their health care exchange, designed to help shoppers purchase a policy.
“I applaud Gov. Deal for not adopting a state- run health care exchange, because it comes with a bill that Georgia simply cannot afford to pay,” said state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Ready to enroll
Five companies are offering new plans designed to meet Obamacare requirements, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia, Alliant, Peach State, Kaiser and Humana.
All participating companies are required to offer various levels of health coverage, designated by metal names like bronze, silver, gold and platinum, according to Budzinski.
Budzinski said the shoppers most interested in logging in to the website are people who have had a hard time getting insurance coverage, mostly because they are sick or have what the insurance agency calls “pre-existing conditions.”
Obamacare stops insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions or charging more money based on a person’s health, or lack thereof.
“Those locked out of the insurance market will be the first to enroll,” Budzinski said.
Budzinski said the value shoppers should be looking for is not just based on cost, but the quality of care that will be covered.
“Health care needs are very personal,” Budzinski said.
Health care summit in Cobb
The Cobb Chamber of Commerce will play host to a health care summit on Oct. 21 at the Cobb Galleria Centre, with a line-up of experts in the health care, insurance and pharmaceutical fields.
The summit will include a chance for discussion by audience members with panelists, including Georgia Attorney Gen. Sam Olens, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Reynold Jennings, president and CEO of WellStar, and Ralph Hudgens, Insurance Commissioner for the State of Georgia.
The Marietta Daily Journal is one of more than a dozen co-sponsors of the summit. The cost is $129 for general admission, and $99 for Cobb Chamber and Georgia Chamber members. To register, visit cobbchamber.org/healthcaresummit.