Obamacare interests the eligible, as glitches get worked out

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 11:12 PM

DALLAS — Darin Brimberry and Salvador Marciante, hair stylists at Muse Salon on Henderson Avenue, admit that the Affordable Care Act has piqued their interest — though both said they aren't yet sold on it.

Marciante is single, has no insurance and said he isn't sure he'll actually sign up for coverage.

"I'm still weighing my options, but right now, as an individual, the penalty for not having insurance is much cheaper than the paying the monthly premium at the moment," Marciante said.

Brimberry and his family currently have health coverage, but he's curious if policies in the federal health exchange will be any cheaper than his current one.

"I think my health insurance that I have is going to be better than anything they can offer,” he said. "And I did get a letter from my health insurance saying I can look around and I can change my insurance, but I cannot go back to the one I have."

Still, using an iPad, Brimberry tried to dig inside HealthCare.gov without success.

"So far it's frustrating," he said.

All day Tuesday, that website — which is designed to be the starting point for health coverage — has faced technical glitches. Brimberry said when he tries to apply for a policy, the site will just freeze.

Some issues were expected, said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, during a visit to Dallas last week.

"I'm sure that everything won’t work totally smoothly,” she told News 8. “I would love to promise that it would. But we have built in redundancies to the IT system. We have back-ups in place. We have back-ups to the back-ups in place."

Still, if there are back-ups, they don’t appear to be helping the uninsured or the curious navigate HealthCare.gov any faster.

Dallas County officials dismissed the problems on Tuesday.

"Don't get me wrong,” said State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). “There are a lot of bugs to work out, and we will work those bugs out.”

Dallas County has the largest number of uninsured in the state with 506,000, most of whom live in the City of Dallas.

But Parkland, the county’s public hospital which spends more than $600 million annually on medical care for the uninsured, said by mid-afternoon on the first day it only got 30 people signed up for coverage.

"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon, and today is the beginning of that marathon," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Anyone wanting coverage to begin on January 1, 2014 must sign up by December 15, Jenkins added.

Still, Republicans say the technical glitches just prove their point.

"This whole approach is wrong,” said Tom Pauken, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. “I don't know why the president is so stubborn that we've just got to go ahead and implement it though the American people say they don't want it."

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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