Texas, a key state for Obamacare, is hampered by healthcare.gov hiccups

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 5:34 PM

DALLAS –– More than three weeks after open enrollment began, a short stack of papers represents the people 10 insurance navigators for 18 North Texas counties have helped so far.  

Only a handful in that stack have actually signed up for an actual policy under the Affordable Care Act.

“I don't have a number yet,” admits lead navigator Sandra Luz. “But our navigators they do work every day.  And they have been having successfully completing several applications online."

Technical glitches on healthcare.gov continue to be a major problem. 

“It just depends on the day how the system is working on that day,” says Luz, “And not even on the day, but also on the time.”

On a visit to Austin on Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits Texas is critical to the success of Obamacare.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, with about 6 million people lacking insurance. The website breakdown has seriously hampered enrollment here.

"Healthcare.gov the website is far from perfect,” admits Sebelius. “It is getting better every day. But we have every intent to not stop until it is smoothly operating for the large volume for people who want to use the website."

The Spanish portion of healthcare.gov isn't working at all, further limiting the success in Texas. 

"We are just being patient,” says Luz, who manages the North Texas area navigators thanks to a grant to The Community Council of Greater Dallas.  “Like I said, it will get better."

Sandra Luz is on the phone nearly nonstop setting up appointments and filling the schedule for the navigators. In case federal officials are forced to extend enrollment, Luz says she has grant money to pay navigators through August.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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