Health care providers, patients frustrated as exchange site stalls for second day
by Rachel Gray
October 03, 2013 01:01 AM | 2626 views | 6 6 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The website Healthcare.gov, touted as a virtual marketplace to shop and enroll for a health care plan, was at a standstill for the second day, getting Obamacare off to a rocky start.

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.

Comments
(6)
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Bad new system
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October 04, 2013
This new healthcare system is going to be a disaster. It is a disaster in Europe, Canada, and other places where it is used. Why do people think it will work any better here?

The current healthcare system that we have is the best in the world. We are lowering our standards with Obamacare!!!!! It is a system that is going to fail.

The government that governs least, governs best. Obama and the Democrats have designed a system that will fail!!!!
Just Wait
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October 03, 2013
Hard to believe with what the Republicans are saying that so many people would be rushing to get health care now that the system is crashing. And here I thought it was evil.
rbt
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October 07, 2013
The government could have avoided this whole mess by allowing interested parties to browse prices without applying. Very few people are signing up for care and just want to know what it will cost. When young people realize their premiums will triple, they will not get insurance. You can shop for an airline ticket without giving your life history. Obamacare should be the same.
anonymous
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October 03, 2013
Because of The Affordable Care Act I can now better afford my health ins premiums. Previously, due to a pre-existing condition, I was locked into paying almost $17,000 a year (just for me) in premiums - that is with a $10,000 deductible! Some in Congress are saying that "the people don't want this". If that is the case then why was there so much traffic on the U.S. Govenment's website? The Affordable care Act (“Obamacare”) passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President, as required by the Constitution. When it was challenged as unconstitutional, it was upheld in a decision written by a Chief Justice appointed by Republican President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by every Republican Senator (55-0). The Affordable Care Act was a great idea implemented by Mitt Romney when he was the Gov of Mass. It worked there and we must give it a chance to work for the nation.

Brian D
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October 03, 2013
What I've found most frustrating about the delays is that the process requires you to complete the lengthy application before you can access all the information on available policies. I'd have preferred to examine the plan information first, then do all the "paperwork" when I was ready to buy a policy. If they deemed me eligible for a premium subsidy, they could show it then. If they'd separated the two processes, people's applications would have been spread out over time and create less burden on the system. I wonder if they could still make that separation at this late date and solve this online logjam.
overwhelming demand
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October 03, 2013
I suppose the overwhelming demand to sign up for insurance via a healthcare exchange won't counter Canter's claims that Americans don't want this, much like the 2nd election of Obama didn't counter Canter's claims that Americans don't want this.

These tea baggers are ruining America. The only thing they accomplish is getting Democrats get elected! We need true Republicans back on our tickets, not these pandering "23 weeks should be the abortion cut off instead of 24" kooks.
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