Obamacare Computer Glitches Improving Ever So Slightly

Image: Obamacare Computer Glitches Improving Ever So Slightly

Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013 08:35 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Consumers who have access to state-run health insurance exchanges have mostly avoided the widespread technical glitches that have plagued enrollment for those who must use the Healthcare.gov site run by the federal government.

The Obama administration went ahead with the federal health care exchange despite repeated warnings that the system was faulty.

Most Americans who have no health insurance live in the 34 states that opted out of the system, Pew reported, and are dependent on the malfunctioning federal site.

In Minneapolis, Robyn Skrebes, a young mother, was able to sign up using Minnesota's exchange which she described to The New York Times as "pretty simple" and "straightforward" though it took two hours. Skrebes selected a policy costing $179 a month, excluding tax credit subsidies, and also got her 2-year-old daughter Medicaid coverage.

"Individual state operations are more adaptable," Alan Weil, the executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told the Times. "That does not mean that states get everything right. But they can respond more quickly to solve problems as they arise."

Some states do not require first creating an online account — a stumbling block for many people trying to use the federal exchange. States that rely on the federal government to verify an applicant's identity have run into problems.

In New York, the state health department reported its exchange had signed up more than 40,000 eligible applicants.

"On balance, the state exchanges are doing better than the federal exchange. The federal exchange has, for all practical purposes, been impenetrable. Systems problems are preventing any sort of meaningful engagement," health consultant Daniel Mendelson, who worked in the Clinton administration, told the Times.

Kentucky's state-run exchange, like many, provides counselors to help with the sign-up process. Brandon Hardy, 31, of Louisville enrolled with such assistance. Hardy, who has epileptic seizures and had been uninsured, said he will now be looking for a neurologist. "This is like a huge relief," he told the Times.

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