Problems persist for those hoping to enroll in Obamacare - WSMV News 4

Problems persist for those hoping to enroll in Obamacare

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Frustration is continuing for people in Tennessee who are trying to access a federal website to shop for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The new healthcare exchange, which is a key part of the Obamacare law, launched Tuesday, and it's hard to find anyone in Middle Tennessee who has actually been able to sign up.

Scores of people came to places like the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville to get help signing up on the first day of open enrollment, but everyone, like Frances Totten, left empty-handed.

"Too many people on at one time," she said.

A day later, the problems with the federal website have persisted.

Family and Children's Services is the umbrella agency that helps people in Nashville sign up. Mike Kessen, vice president of program operations, echoes what officials in Washington are saying: high demand swamped the federal website.

"I'm not surprised there are some glitches," Kessen said.

Similarly, United Neighborhood Health's clinics have put their customers in a holding pattern.

Catie McIntyre is rescheduling appointments with clients who were coming in for help enrolling online.

"What I've been doing is setting up appointments with clients for a couple of weeks out, give it a little more time so we'll have a smoother process when they come in to apply," she said.

Counselors want people to take this time to study their options and get their documents in order.

"You need at least your social security number or birth certificate, and if you have a job, your most recent tax returns or paycheck stubs," said counselor Will Wyatt.

The federal website is the problem. Officials warn that if you get the "please wait" screen, don't hit refresh or you'll lose your place in line.

You can also file an application form the old-fashioned way by filling out the official documents and mailing them in.

The bad news is people who make less than about $11,000 a year may not qualify for this program. The federal government believes they should be covered under Medicaid, our version in Tennessee is TennCare, and, so far, the state has not decided to expand TennCare coverage.

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