Utah offers solution to Obamacare enrollment problems

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Utahns have healthcare alternatives to filing for insurance with the problem-ridden Obamacare enrollment website that launched Oct. 1.

Barack Obama
President Obama address healthcare.gov failures in Rose Garden, Monday Oct, 21. (AP Photo)

Sara Knott, sophomore and pre-accounting major, attempted to sign up for Obamacare on healthcare.gov as an experiment.

“I tried to sign up, and it just didn’t work. It couldn’t even verify my name,” Knott said. “The layout looks pretty, but it’s hard to figure out. I literally filled out the same screen three times because the site isn’t organized.”

The site did not tell Knott why her name was not verified. Healthcare.gov required her name, address and email but did not request her social security number or other government documentation. She said she was a little concerned with the security.

“They don’t even ask for my social security number,” Knott said. “There’s a box for it, but it says optional.”

Knott said she didn’t want to provide her social security number, so she stopped after the site would no longer verify her. She said her attempt ended in frustration, just like millions of other Americans.

President Obama addressed the problems of healthcare.gov Oct. 21.

“There’s no sugar coating it. The website has been slow, there have been people getting stuck in the application process,” Obama said. “No one is madder than me that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed.”

Obama assured the essence of the Affordable Healthcare Act was working fine, and the problems were strictly digital. He said despite criticism, the flaws were not a sign of a larger problem.

“We are doing everything we can possibly do,” Obama said. “We have people working overtime. We are confident that we will get all the problems fixed.”

In the meantime, individuals across the nation can sign up for government healthcare by phone or in person. Utahns have even more options.

Arches HealthCare is new healthcare for Utahns funded in part by the Affordable Care Act. Arches is classified as a CO-OP (Consumer-Oriented and Operated Plan), another alternativ to federal healthcare, and established using $85 million in federal loans. CO-OPs are designed to specifically target demographics that are disproportionally uninsured, such as Latinos.

“To see full range of options, consumers will need to be patient with healthcare.gov,” said Arches vice president Judi Hillman in a press release. “In the meantime and going forward, Dialogue Marketing has licensed insurance agents to get equipped to help members of the community that may not be reached by brokers and agents.”

Arches has teamed with Dialogue Marketing to resolve healthcare enrollment problems. Arches is prepared to answer questions over the phone about healthcare options to uninsured Utah residents. In Utah, information counselors must be certified before advising potential consumers on healthcare options. Arches only offers information about Arches plans, not rates or information about outside private insurance companies.

Hillman said Arches is a great opportunity for Utahns to see their options.

“With all the finger-pointing going around healthcare.gov, it’s easy to forget that many consumers would be window-shopping right now anyway,” Hillman said.

According to the Affordable Care Act, all citizens must have health insurance by March 2014 or face penalization. All citizens who enroll in exchanges via healthcare.gov by Dec. 1 will receive healthcare by January 2014. Delays in registration have prevented many Americans from registering. If delays continue, government may have to push back the December 2013 or March 2014 deadline.

Even with new solutions, Utahns are not without ongoing frustrations. The Utah Health Exchange’s website is not in working order, and in-site links are disconnected. For now, Utah citizens can direct healthcare questions to Arches.

It is unclear when problems will be resolved or if open enrollment will be extended due to delays.

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