CHAMPAIGN — How much better is the newly improved federal website to sign up for Obamacare health insurance working? It depends on whom you ask.
Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said the specially trained "navigators" stationed there to assist people with enrollment tell her the system is now working great.
Not so much for navigators at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, who held an enrollment event Monday in Savoy and were unable to enroll anyone. The system was overloaded and simply wouldn't admit anyone, said Wayne Duke, a navigator and case manager in RPC Senior Services.
"I believe that everybody heard the news that it was working, and it got over-jammed," he said.
Alice Cronenberg, a Champaign-Urbana Public Health prevention specialist and navigator, said the federal website enrollment system has been working "pretty well" this week since changes were made to improve it.
"My headache has subsided," she said.
Cronenberg, who assists with enrollment between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., said it has taken her as little time to enroll people as 15 minutes — well, at least once it took just that long — to an hour-and-a-half.
"The bigger the family, the more the information there is to put in," she said.
The 15-minute enrollee "had everything ready to go," Cronenberg said.
"That's the best way to speed up the process," she advises. "It helps to bring in your taxes from last year. That's really helpful because we need that information."
She also advises making sure you have a Social Security number or other identifying information available for everybody being insured.
Duke said RPC navigators kept receiving messages on the federal website at http://www.healthcare.gov to come back in an hour.
"It puts you in a queue. When room becomes available, you're allowed to go in and continue with your enrollment," he said. "But it didn't seem to work for us."
One person trying to enroll stayed two hours and eventually left, he said.
Most people were going to try and get into the system at home later, Duke said.
"That's what they were suggesting, to attempt during non-peak hours, which probably meant after 5 p.m.," he added.
RPC Senior Services will hold another enrollment assistance event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.
An enrollment event has also been scheduled by PACE Inc. from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 at 1317 E. Florida Ave. U.
Bring all financial information necessary to assist with the process, the organization advises.