By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly a month into a dysfunctional health care rollout, the Obama administration announced today that a private contractor will take the lead fixing the problem riddled Healthcare.gov website. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us, the administration says it expects that vast majority of issues will be resolved by the end of November, but he’s skeptical.
Twenty-five days into the enrollment period and I still can’t get past the basic log-in page on Healthcare.gov even though the website says my identity has been verified. When I’ve inquired about what to do now. I was instructed to fill out a seven page paper application, mail it to Kentucky, and then wait.
“Don’t believe what you’ve heard. Just check it out, look at the prices, look at the plans,” says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. But that’s easier said than done for many Americans trying to shop for affordable health insurance on the government run Healthcare.gov website. While 700,000 people in 36 states have completed the application process, it’s believed that only a fraction of those people have actually managed to purchase insurance coverage.
Navigators trained to assist people with enrollment on the website have resorted to handing out paper applications after having so many problems. Neysha Casiano is a certified application counselor. She says, “It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it to help out our clients here in the community.”
Sebelius says, “I’d be the first to admit the website is far from where we want it to be and where it should be. People have been frustrated trying to use it,” adding that reports of as little as three in 10 people have been able to actually make it all the way through the process.
Meanwhile in states running their own online marketplaces, CBS News has learned an unexpectedly large number of people are signing up for Medicaid, and not buying the private insurance. In Washington state for example, more than 35,000 people are newly enrolled but of that number 87 percent signed up for Medicaid. Gail Wilensky is a former Medicaid Director. She says, “Either the private insurance enrollments come up somewhere around the expected amount, or there’s going to be a problem.” That’s because insurance companies are counting on healthy people signing-up to help offset the cost of covering the sick and the poor.