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Use of Obamacare Services to Spike Next Week

Image: Use of Obamacare Services to Spike Next Week Dr. John Venetos poses for a photo between surgical procedures on Jan. 2 in Chicago. Venetos described the "tremendous uncertainty and anxiety" among patients calling his office who think they signed up for coverage but haven't received insurance cards yet.

By Courtney Coren   |   Friday, 03 Jan 2014 10:21 AM

Use of healthcare services by individuals who recently obtained coverage through Obamacare is expected to spike in the next week, as users begin taking advantage of their new health insurance plans.

Individuals are learning about their new plans and beginning to make doctor appointments, representatives from healthcare companies, trade groups, and the Obama Administration told The Hill.

Editor’s Note:
New 'Obamacare Survival Guide' Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

"We're anticipating a surge in activity beginning next week," said Markeisha Marshall, Walgreens spokesperson.

There are two major concerns as individuals begin to put their plans to the test — that consumers will learn that their plan is different than they thought and, if they have not made their first payment yet, they may not have insurance at all.

Walgreens, CVS Pharmacies, Kroger, and WalMart have tried to offset some of these potential problems by giving individuals a month to obtain medications from their pharmacies at no-cost, if they can prove they have enrolled in an Obamacare plan but haven't received their insurance cards yet.

Some insurance companies have also said that individuals can have until Jan. 10 to pay their first premium and have coverage begin Jan. 1.

"We haven't seem many issues, but it's early," said Kevin Schweers of the National Community Pharmacists Association. "We're predicting Monday will be a better arbiter [for how the law is holding up], so that's something we're keeping an eye on."

Kroger spokesman, Keith Dailey, said that January is typically a rocky month for the healthcare industry as consumers transition to new plans, saying that there is a "surge of customers with new insurance the first moth of every year."

While the Obama Administration has said that the problems with the back-end of HealthCare.gov that is supposed to connect with insurance companies has been largely fixed, the health insurance trade group America's Health Insurance Plans told The Hill that the problems are "ongoing."

"Health plans are working around the clock to process the high volume of enrollments that they have received from the exchanges," said Robert Zirkelbach, America's Health Insurance Plans spokesman.

"While there are still some ongoing challenges with the back-end systems, including so-called 'orphan records,' where the enrollment files are never received, health plans are working with [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] to resolve those issues as quickly as possible so that consumers' coverage can begin in January," Zirkelbach said.

Editor’s Note: New 'Obamacare Survival Guide' Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

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