First day of health care enrollment did not go smoothly - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

First day of health care enrollment did not go smoothly

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Enrollment in ACA began Tuesday Enrollment in ACA began Tuesday
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Open enrollment began Tuesday under the Affordable Care Act. That means health coverage plans and their rates are available for those insured and uninsured to review and purchase in the insurance marketplace.

But overwhelming demand is delaying the sign up process, according to the federally appointed navigators who are charged with signing people up for coverage.

"Out of all the six sites, no one that the C.A.C. worked with, enrolled," said York Glover with the Eau Claire Cooperative Health. "We got some folks set up with accounts but because the market kept shutting down, we couldn't go further."

Glover says he has patience and says people out there should have some too and not get deterred.

"I'm a Certified Application Counselor," said Glover. "I will not force you to do anything you don't need to do. I am there as a guide. I'm the help button."

Navigators across the state say they weren't sure what to expect Tuesday, the first day of enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.  Many had hopes of enrolling up to 20 people in affordable coverage plans.

But that's not looking likely, as the healthcare.gov web site is experiencing some delays due to an overload of users.

Uninsured student Jeffrey Pedro Stivender says he struggles to pay his medical bills every month.

"Too much for me to pay," he said. "I owe at least $50,000 right now. That was at last count."

Because of chronic illness, Stvender's life is a collage of waiting rooms and medical bills. But he's hopeful Obamacare will give him some relief.

But agencies appointed to help enroll consumers in coverage options say tremendous traffic on the federal health care web site has all but halted enrollment.

"You can't create an online account, and that's the first step," said certified navigator Kristin Mack. "That tells you how slow it is today."

Navigators expect the logjam will lessen in the coming days, but they also warn those seeking insurance to be careful about who they give their personal information to.

"It's not necessary to pay anyone for this advice," said Wanda Pearson with the Cooperative Ministry. "A navigator will not ask you for your personal information. They will ask you to have it available, but you will enter that information into the system yourself."

Navigators can also help you determine what tax credits you may be available for. Those credits can be applied and paid to the insurance company in advance.

"Has been compared to the typical amount you pay for cell phone service or cable TV," Pearson said.

Strivender says the prospect of free insurance may lessen his struggle to simply survive.

"A healthy person stays on the job five days a week and doesn't miss so many sick days per year," he says.

You have until March 31 to apply, but if you want your coverage to kick in by Jan. 1 you MUST enroll by Dec. 15.

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