Updated: Snags appear for marketplace; Medicaid signups quicker
CHAMPAIGN — Those glitches expected to develop with the launch of the state's online health marketplace, Get Covered Illinois, are appearing for at least some people trying to sign up.
Medicaid enrollees are zipping right through the application process, counselors helping at the Champaign-Urbana Public District say, but snags are developing for those trying to access the private insurance plans.
"It's all slow," said Nicole Wente, one of the counselors at the health district, which is set up to help people enroll in the marketplace that opened at 12:01 a.m. today.
Luba Golmeeva, 40, of Savoy, came to the health district and got hung up in the system trying to access the marketplace plans. She got started, but ran into problems getting past a section setting up her user profile, Wente said.
"I hit, 'try again,' and it took us back to the beginning," she added.
Pat Lamanske, 66, of Champaign, spent two hours at the health district this morning trying to get his wife signed up for coverage and still hadn't gotten into the health plan side of the marketplace website, he said.
The first hour was blown because his financial eligibility was incorrectly calculated and the system incorrectly directed him to the Medicaid system when it should have directed him to the health plans, said Awais Vaid, the health district's director of planning and one of the certified counselors helping enroll.
A series of screening questions at the beginning of the process is designed to direct enrollees to either the state Medicaid application process or private insurance plans available in the marketplace.
Medicaid applications are going through in about a half-hour, Vaid said.
"Not like marketplace, where it's just sitting," he added.
Early Medicaid filers this morning who came to public health to use computers were in and out in less than an hour.
"It's pretty easy to use," said Mandy Wyatt, 19, of Champaign.
Wyatt said she has been uninsured since she became too old to be covered under a parent with a state medical card, and she came to enroll in the state's newly expanded Medicaid program for which she is now eligible.
Tosha Lockett, 27, of Champaign was waiting at the health district to enroll 15 minutes before the doors opened.
Also uninsured, she said it has been "scary" living without insurance with a 1-year-old son.
"I have a child. You never know what can happen."
Lockett said she was once insured through Health Alliance Medical Plans, then through the state Medicaid program, but her Medicaid was canceled Sept. 1 and she hasn't been able to find out why.
She was eager to get into the health marketplace as soon as it opened and sign back up for Medicaid, and she was able to do that without any problems, she said.
The enrollment process in Medicaid was "really easy," she said.
"It moves pretty quickly," she added.
"I feel good. I feel I got something accomplished," Lockett said.
Vaid said he's found a couple of issues with the system so far:
The Medicaid application is long, and it offers enrollees an opportunity to upload or mail their personal identification information, such as state IDs or drivers' licenses, but the health district wasn't able to see the application until the marketplace opened today so it wasn't prepared with a scanner available so people could scan IDs and upload them, he said.
"We might think about doing this," Vaid added.
Vaid said he just finished the federal part of the training, which comes last, for health marketplace counselors, on Saturday. It included 26 modules and 12 exams that had to be passed with scores of 86 or higher, he said.