More glitches for El Pasoans on second day of Affordable Care Act enrollment


POSTED: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 5:49pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 9:17pm website overwhelmed with heavy traffic

It has been a rocky start to the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  The same glitches that caused a slow rollout Monday prevented El Pasoans from signing up for health care again Tuesday.

Project Amistad is one of 13 agencies in El Paso designated by the Department of Health and Human Services to help residents enroll in the health insurance marketplace.  Project Amistad Community Relations Manager Roy Ortega said five people are trained to take calls from people with questions, and they are training another five people. 

"Our role is to ensure that residents who perhaps may not have a computer, or perhaps may have limited English proficiency, or don't have any transportation, our role is to assist them in going through the process of enrolling in the marketplace so that they can obtain affordable health insurance for themselves," said Ortega.

However, as of Tuesday, they had not been able to complete one successful registration because the website was inaccessible because of the heavy traffic.  The site posted an error message that read, "We have a lot of visitors on the site right now. Please stay on this page. We're working to make the experience better, and we don't want you to lose your place in line. We'll send you to the login page as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!"

Rosalva Hernandez is the Consumer Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Services lead navigator at Project Amistad.  She also tried dialing the 1-800 number for the marketplace.  A representative said, "We're having a lot of business trying to use the website right now, and that's causing some glitches."

Rosalva is taking down contact information for the people who call Project Amistad with questions, and said one of the five representatives will call them all back once the site is back up and running.

Ortega said they will help callers navigate through the enrollment process, but callers should not expect any help in the decision-making process, "We may not under any circumstance encourage them to select one health plan as opposed to another."

Open enrollment will last through March 31st, but in order to obtain coverage by January 1st, residents must enroll by December 14th.  After the March 31st deadline, residents will not be able to get insurance until 2015 and will have to pay a $95 penalty, which will be deduced from their 2015 tax return.   

For enrollment questions, contact Project Amistad toll free at 1-877-413-2372.  They are also taking walk-in appointments at their office located at 1359 Lomaland Dr. 

The phone number for the national toll-free call center is 1-800-318-2596 or TTY 1-855-889-4325 for the hearing impaired.

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