Signing Up for Obamacare? Old-School Way Is No Easier

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 09:49 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Consumers who faced frustrating problems with the HealthCare.gov website over the past three weeks are now facing similar problems as they try old-fashioned methods.

As it turns out, registering by pen, paper, or phone also doesn't work well, even as President Barack Obama touts other ways for people to sign up for the required health insurance plans while the government's $600 million website gets fixed, Politico.com reported.

Jennifer Ng'andu, director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza, which advocates for Hispanics, expressed frustration that even the most basic ways to register didn't work, since all the information must be posted into the same website. And the website doesn't work most of the time.

"I feel like we're sort of back in the era of control-alt-delete where we're trying to figure out the different tricks to facilitate people's enrollment," Ng'andu told Politico.

The ongoing issues with the program came as the White House said Friday that the website was expected to be fully functioning within a month.

On Thursday, a four-member panel of tech consultants who worked on developing the site faced a -hour grilling by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who strained to understand why no one was taking responsibility for the problems, even as the healthcare law remained one of the Obama administration's signature programs.

The lawmakers' anger came as phone lines didn't work, enrollment personnel couldn't fully answer questions, and insurers were unable to determine what plans certain people might be eligible for. All applications have to be entered into the same website — whether they are taken by phone, by snail mail, or online. And that seems to be a big part of the problem, Politico reports.

A federal call center had 10,000 people ready to help with the onslaught, but Politico reported that even with the extra workers, problems getting through to register for the healthcare exchanges continued.

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