Thanks to a new Chicago-based call center, Illinois residents have an additional toll-free number they can call to sign up for health insurance. The new number was setup to handle more calls and alleviate bottlenecks that have occurred since enrollment in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began Tuesday.
Illinois is one of seven states that chose to run insurance exchanges in partnership with the federal government. The other states with similar arrangements are Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Delaware, West Virginia and New Hampshire. A total of 16 states and the District of Columbia run their own exchanges, while the remaining 27 states default to federally-run exchanges.
Enrollment the first few days has not exactly been smooth sailing, according to the Chicago Tribune. Those who visited the federal website, healthcare.gov, ran into numerous errors and delays while attempting to sign up.
Many encountered a holding page where they had to wait before an application page became available.
The snags did not end there. Dropdown boxes intended to contain a list of security questions were blank, holding up enrollment even further.
GetCoveredIllinois.gov, the state’s landing page, had 115,000 unique visitors the first day of operation and has run relatively smoothly compared to the federal site. The site has a screening tool that factors in family size and income.
If the income is low enough for the family size given, the user is routed to a site where people can sign up for Medicaid and other forms of assistance. Otherwise, the enrollee will go to the normal online marketplace to sign up.
The problems on the federal website that many have had signing up for healthcare coverage have to be of concern to many. Officials are quick to attribute the problems to unusually large volume and the glitches typical of a new system rollout.
This gives ammunition to opponents of the ACA, which argues that the government has had over three years to get the system built and tested before enrollment began Tuesday. The bigger concern has to be that if enrolling through the federal site is this problematic, how difficult will it be to get treatment when you need it badly?
Edited by Rachel Ramsey