How to get help signing up for health insurance

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 8 at 8:00 PM

DALLAS — One week into open enrollment, HealthCare.gov is still experiencing technical glitches and delays.

U.S. Health and Human Services officials say millions have visited the site that serves Texas and 35 other states that do not have their own programs, but won't say how many have successfully enrolled.

The omission was noted by Texas Rep. Michael Burgess (R-District 26) on the House floor Tuesday.

"Unlike the initial claims that the site was crashing because demand was so high, it is clear now that the exchanges are failing because they appear to have major structural flaws," he said.

So far, Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas has helped fill out initial paperwork by hand for more than 400 people. Dallas County, however, has more than half a million residents who are uninsured.

It's impossible to determine how many Texans statewide have signed up.

"No, we don't know how many people are actually insured,” said Martha Blaine, executive director of the Community Council of Greater Dallas.

The organization has been given a grant to hire health exchange "navigators" to help the uninsured understand the confusing sign-up process. So far, none of those navigators have successfully signed up a citizen online.

“The paper applications will take a little time to process before they come back,” Blaine said, "and there is another step before people actually have insurance."

Blaine is now directing navigators to take clients to a location at HealthCare.gov where individuals and families — as well as small businesses — can look at the specific plans offered in different counties. Five insurance companies are offering plans with differing premiums and coverage to Dallas County residents.

"They can look at the providers that are on each plan so they can see if their favorite doctor or clinic is something they want to buy into," Blaine explained.

Determining discounts, comparing policies, and signing up at HealthCare.gov right now is only for the lucky few.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com


Here are links to go directly to some of the most popular information on HealthCare.gov.

You can also call 800-318-2596 if you have questions about signing up for health insurance programs, and you can set up an appointment with a health care navigator from the Community Council of Greater Dallas by calling 214-650-7724. 


 

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