Insurance for Health: The Rush for Obamacare

Insurance

The deadline is looming for those looking to be covered under the new national care act starting January 1.  Individuals and families who are selecting Obamacare for their health insurance plan come the new year are in a rush; the deadline to register to be covered on January 1 is this Monday.

President Barack Obama announced some of the registration numbers on Friday, which until then had been kept under tight seal by the Health and Human Services Department.  Five hundred thousand people signed up to have health insurance via the HealthCare.gov federal website in the month of December; and, that number, combined with previous months and the states who elected to set up their own healthcare websites, puts the total to over a million.  Obama went on to say that tens of thousands of people are accessing the website and enrolling every day.

While many may have enrolled, that does not mean that they are yet fully covered in the new Obamacare program.  In order to be fully enrolled, Americans must pay for their premiums, and those who have not will not be covered in January.

While problems with the HealthCare.gov website were prevalent over the first few months, Obama is bolstered by December’s numbers, saying that it proves the website is now up and functioning well.  Only 365,000 people were able to enroll in Obamacare via the federal website in October and November.

While the federal website does appear to be working, the rush for Obamacare health insurance in states who elected to create their own websites instead of using the federal one have had mixed results.  Maryland, Hawaii and Oregon have had serious website problems, while states such as California claim that their website has run smoothly since day one.

However, with the surge of Californians looking to apply for Obamacare right before the deadline, the state is having trouble keeping up.  Wait times at the call centers are at an average of 30 minutes, with many unable to connect with an enrollment counselor at all.  Enrollment centers have lines out the door; and, with a simple, single individual signup taking around 30 minutes and a shortage of counselors, Californians will be waiting in line for some time.

Other Californians who already signed up and selected their health insurance are still waiting for their proof of insurance and bill to arrive.  Without that proof, many are concerned that they will not have coverage for the upcoming new year and will have difficulty filling their current prescriptions as well covering possible doctor or emergency room visits.

Massachusetts is another state that has had difficulty with their website, and they have put efforts to fix it on hold while they make an offline system which should be able to put through applications for individuals who need to be covered by insurance starting January 1.  The state says that with the backup, not all of the current applications will be reviewed in time for the new year.  But applicants will be automatically enrolled in a temporary coverage until the state can manage to process their applications.

Those who will still have a health insurance plan for the new year need not rush to get in line for Obamacare; applications will continue to be accepted past the Monday deadline, though coverage start times will vary.

By Marisa Corley

Sources:

NBC News
LA Times
Boston Globe

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