Tips offered to navigating health insurance website
CHAMPAIGN — Try using a different web browser.
Or consider logging on in the middle of the night.
Either of these tips might just get you past the roadblocks on the federal website on which millions of people are trying to enroll in health insurance, say counselors and navigators helping the uninsured.
Jen Tayabji, a community organizer with one organization offering help, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, said she hasn't seen any browser requirements or suggestions to do a browser check for the federal health insurance marketplace website at http://www.healthcare.gov.
However, she said, she tried using both Firefox and Safari web browsers, and "it worked a lot better with Safari."
Some people have become discouraged trying to apply on the federal website and are now just waiting, Tayabji said, but in the past week daytime access has seemed to improve.
"Depending on the time of day, we've been able to get people trough the federal application," she said.
Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde advises people hitting traffic jams on the federal website during the day to try the middle of the night.
"I understand from people doing it themselves, that if you wake up at 2 in the morning, that's a good time," she said.
The public health district has 10 navigators offering in-person help at 201 W. Kenyon Road, C, and access to the federal website has been "hit and miss" during the daytime, Pryde said.
Though, she adds, "we have gotten through to the federal website to sign up."
Want to hear the latest? Champaign County Health Care Consumers has scheduled a community meeting with updated information about using the state-federal health marketplace. It will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.
Meanwhile, Tayabji said some people can spare themselves time and frustration just by knowing which government — state or federal — they need to deal with for health coverage.
Those who are eligible for Medicaid, the state's health plan for the needy, don't need the federal website at all, she said.
"The trick is knowing whether you qualify for that," Tayabji says.
The Medicaid program has been expanded to include more people, so those who don't know if they are eligible can talk to navigators in the area. Or start with the state gateway site at http://www.getcoveredillinois.gov and answer a handful of screening questions.
If the system determines you may be Medicaid eligible, it directs you to the Medicaid application site at https://abe.illinois.gov to answer more questions.
Illinois' Get Covered website is also a gateway to the federal website for the non-Medicaid eligible, on which people are attempting to apply for coverage and subsidies and view health plans in their state marketplaces.
Heather Benz, a navigator at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, Urbana, said roadblocks on the federal website have made it tough trying to enroll people coming to that location.
"We're still trying," she said. "We get emails telling us, Got to be patient, that they're working on those types of glitches."
In addition to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, in-person assistance is available through other public health departments in the area and at these locations:
— PACE Center for Independent Living, 1317 E. Florida Ave., U.
— East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center, 302 S. Birch St., U. (Appointment advised, call 344-8455.)
— Campaign for Better Health Care, 44 E. Main St., Suite 414, C. (Appointment only, call 352-5600.)
— Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, 1776 E. Washington St., U.
Sessions scheduled to help with enrollment
A series of public sessions has been scheduled to help with enrollment for the state-federal health marketplace and Medicare.
The meetings will be sponsored by the Presence Covenant Medical Center's language services department and its Center for Healthy Living, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission and East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center as follows:
— Oct. 25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regional Planning Commission, 1307 N. Mattis Ave., C.
— Nov. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., Presence Covenant, 1400 W. Park St., U
— Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County, 520 E. Wabash Ave., Suite 1, Rantoul.
— Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Savoy Recreation Center, 402 Graham Drive, Savoy.
People planning to attend don't need to register in advance, but should bring proof of income, citizenship (such as a Social Security card or passport) and proof of Illinois residency. There will be interpreters available for multiple languages.