The two day-old Health Insurance Marketplace has experienced a few newborn hiccups. The press has reported some delays and other technical glitches from people eager to complete applications for quality, affordable health insurance. Anyone involved in the launch of a new online program or website (as MeHAF has been with the recent launch of enroll207.com) knows that a new site is bound to have issues that can’t always be anticipated and corrected until the site goes live.
Such technical glitches were anticipated by many of us who are working to get people signed up for coverage. No one wants to cope with delays, but there’s another side to this story. As of this morning, HealthCare.gov, the site that operates the Marketplace in Maine and other federally-facilitated states, reported 6 million unique visitors to the site! Even Apple or Microsoft might experience issues on their sites with that volume of traffic. In Maine, organizations providing enrollment assistance, including Consumers for Affordable Health Care are reporting a similar flood of calls about the Marketplace.
The good news behind the Marketplace glitches is that people across America – and Maine – desperately want health insurance. Even in day two, the interest and response from people looking for coverage is still jamming the new website. It’s hard to ask people anxious to enroll to be patient, but the bumps and glitches will get fixed and Mainers will have time to review their options and sign up during the initial open enrollment period (which lasts through March 31, 2014).
Better still, with these new Marketplace plans, many Maine people will be eligible for help paying for premiums for quality health insurance purchased through the Marketplace.
There’s a growing group of specially trained people who can help Mainers review their options and sign up. Free, confidential, in-person help from certified assisters – (also known as navigators and certified application counselors) – is available in every area of the state. To find help, Mainers can use the aptly-named “Find Help” tool on enroll207.com. Enter a town or zip code to see a list of the locations near you to get free help.
Workshops and other events to educate and inform Maine people and small businesses about the Marketplace and the Affordable Care Act are being added daily to enroll207.com all the time, so check the page frequently.
It’s been a long journey to the October 1 opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace, but our destination – more affordable health insurance for many more of our neighbors, friends and family members - will be well worth the bumps, hiccups and glitches experienced along the way.
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