INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When one month remained to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, 65,000 people in Indiana had enrolled. When hours were left ahead of the March 31 deadline, many others waited on hold, in line and for technical glitches to be repaired.
The government’s website, healthcare.gov experienced hours of on-and-off maintenance issues throughout the day Wednesday. By the afternoon, anyone signing on was placed in a virtual waiting room because so many were trying to use the site at once.
Workers at the MDWise call center in Bloomington fielded call after call beginning at 8 a.m. The provider is one option for health care for Hoosiers needing to satisfy the new government requirement.
Within an hour and a half of opening, the center had received more than 700 calls. The volume and wait times were expected to grow throughout the day and especially in the evening once many people got off work.
MDWise outreach supervisor, Fernando Luna said staff would work through the night to make sure every call and question was answered.
“We’re still going to help them. We’re not going to turn anybody away so as long as the attempt is made. We’re still going to take their information and help them through the process,” Luna said.
The cost of coverage options has been more of an issue than the time required to enroll for some Hoosiers.
Claire Purdie, 30, of Indianapolis spent an hour and a half reviewing options online Wednesday. The student and full-time nanny has been without insurance since the age of 19. She opted to face a tax penalty after deciding “Affordable Care” was not in the end affordable to her.
“So many things sound good in theory and then the practice just doesn’t follow the theory of it all,” Purdie said. “I live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have a huge savings account to pull from when something goes wrong or to pay $300 a month [for insurance].”
People who miss Monday’s open enrollment deadline could be fined when filing 2014 taxes. The fine is one percent of a person’s annual income for 2014 and increases in the years following.
Days ahead of the deadline, the White House announced a grace period for those working through the enrollment process. Anyone attempting to apply for health coverage before the 11:59 p.m. deadline would be offered an extension to finish the process. The period was first described as mid-April but not given a definitive deadline.
To avoid the fine, either employer-based insurance or coverage through healthcare.gov is needed.
The next enrollment period opens Nov. 15, 2014. Click here to enroll.