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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act Navigators Bypass Glitches

Obstacles Extend to States continued...

Like her counterparts in Nebraska and Wyoming, Hamler-Fugitt says the problems at healthcare.gov haven't been a major problem for her organization's helpers. That’s partly because they're focusing now on reaching out to groups and scheduling one-on-one meetings for November, she says. It also helps that consumers aren't looking to make a quick choice. "This is a major decision for people, and they need to do their homework," she says.

Healthcare.gov can now show various health plan options to consumers who aren't ready to log in but still want to see which options are available. (On healthcare.gov, click on "See Plans Now.")

Help on the Way?

While the navigators try to make the best of the situation, the secretary of Health and Human Services called the rollout “a debacle” this week. Testifying at a House committee hearing Wednesday, Kathleen Sebelius apologized for the frustration Americans have felt because of the “flawed launch of Healthcare.gov.”

The Obama administration has brought in a special adviser to lead efforts to fix the system. Jeffrey D. Zients, who was the chief performance officer for the Office of Management and Budget, says it will take until the end of November to work out all the bugs.

As the serious technical problems linger, Ohio's Hamler-Fugitt said the nation has been down this road before.

In 2006, there were huge problems when the federal government began offering new prescription drug benefits through Medicare, and millions of people failed to be enrolled properly. "It was almost a massive failure," she says, but the system made it through the rough patch.

"This is really no different," she says. "When you have a brand new program, I don't care whether it's government or business, it doesn't roll out without glitches."

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