Delaware blames health insurance website, procrastination for low sign up numbers [video]

     (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

    (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

    In the past month, hundreds of Delawareans have successfully signed up for health insurance through the healthcare.gov marketplace, but state officials say there is a long ways to go.

    According to the latest report, 793 residents were able to enroll for insuance as of December 12. That’s up from 136 that were reported a month ago.

    However, thousands of applicants are still experiencing problems with the website.

    Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said during the state’s monthly Health Care Commission meeting that approximately one out of every ten applications are being flagged for review, the majority are marked as eligible for Medicaid based on application information including income.

    When that happens, applicants are shut out of the application process and their information is automatically transferred for review. The federal medicaid offices have to transfer those files to the state to make the determination.

    “We have close to 3,000 individuals in those files and we’re going through them right now,” explained Landgraf.

    Landgraf said applicants who have been flagged for Medicaid but know they are not eligible for the program should contact DHSS as soon as possible.

    “It’s important for us to outreach to the public and say ‘if you got caught in that loop and you know very well that you are not Medicaid eligible, to please make us aware of that and we will work to diligently to get that resolved so you can get back to the marketplace to purchase that insurance.’”

    Of the nearly 800 successfully enrolled, Landgraf said her department hasn’t been able to do a demographic breakdown to see which groups are having the most success in signing up. She said her department is working in “triage mode” and is most concerned with helping people sign up before the upcoming deadlines.

    Open enrollment will be available until March 31, 2014, the latest date you can sign up for minimum coverage to avoid a penalty.

    If you want your insurance to kick in January 1, 2014 the deadline to apply for coverage is December 23, 2013.

    “What we are trying to do now is assist those who enrolled early and are having challenges to assist them to be able to actually get enrolled because they, to me, are those individuals who are most critical, and then working with others to support them in the enrollment, especially if they want their coverage to begin January 1.”

    Secretary Landgraf also encourages those who tried to sign up in October but ran into errors, to go back to the website and use the “remove” button which will eliminate the old application and allow them to start a new one. The feature does not work for those who were flagged as Medicaid eligible.

    It’s estimated that more than 32,000 Delawareans are without health insurance.

    Landgraf said the latest numbers show that people are making the effort to get informed and sign up. The state’s informational health insurance website, choosehealthde.com, received more than 127,000 visits through December 11. Of those visits, more than 24,000 have followed the direct link to healthcare.gov to shop Delaware’s insurance marketplace.

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