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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Many Consumers Report Improvements With Healthcare.gov

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“I am so relieved,” she said, adding that she had been receiving coverage through a special high-risk pool created under the health law, which expires in December.

Gina Holub, 47,  of Richboro, Pa., said healthcare.gov also worked for her Sunday, after her application had been hung up since October. “I figured I would give it another try, given that they said the fixes would be done by end of November,” said Holub, a freelance market research analyst.

It took her 15 minutes to complete a new application and another 45 minutes to choose a plan from Independence Blue Cross, which includes dental coverage — and she will pay $750 a year less than she does now. Her old insurer was canceling her policy as of Jan. 1. “It’s so exciting to get better insurance at a lower price,” she said.

Both Holub and Fleisher-Gann noted how the improved healthcare.gov makes it easier to compare plans’ prices and benefits. Consumers can sort plans by price, total out-of-pocket costs and the name of the insurer.  Users can click one button to learn what doctors and hospitals are in each plan and click another to determine which prescription drugs are covered and at what price. The co-pays for primary care and specialist physicians, as well as for generic drugs, are also easy to find, they said.

“Never underestimate the power of the Hanukkah Miracle,” said Jodi  Ray, project director for Florida Covering Kids & Families,  the largest group of navigators in south Florida who are helping people enroll in coverage.  Ray said she has done several applications since Sunday and “zoomed right through the process.” Hanukkah, the eight-night Jewish holiday of lights, started last Wednesday night.

Not everyone was successful, however. Philip McHugh, 61, of Durham, N.C., said that even though he was able to reset his online application, he still received an error message each time he tried to submit it. “This website is a piece of junk,” said McHugh, whose current policy expires at the end of the year. He said if he can’t get on the website, he may have to buy an exchange policy from an insurance agent. He worries that he may not find as good a deal. He said he tried phoning a call center but the operator was unable to help him.

Fabienne Pierre, a navigator employed by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County & Treasure Coast in Florida, said she too has noticed the website is working better after weeks of difficulties. “I have had luck with completing applications and viewing the eligibilities and plans,” she said.

Pamela Walker, director of the St. Louis City Health Department, said Monday she is relieved both personally and professionally that the site is finally working as promised. She was able to help get her son, Nathan, 32, enrolled in a subsidized plan that will cost him a little over $100 a month. He has been in a catastrophic-type plan with a high deductible that covered little upfront. She said the entire process took 65 minutes.

Mon, Dec 02 2013

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