High traffic blocked Colorado’s health care exchange website and spurred long awaiting times on phones Tuesday as target customers are hurried to explore new health insurance plans.
Technology falters and unforeseeably high interest around country stamped “go-live” for Obamacare as millions of people strewed the federal health care exchange and state exchanges from New York to Rhode Island and California.
In some states, like Oregon, customers couldn’t utilize the online system at all. Minnesota inched online late in the day.
In Colorado, exchange healthcare managers summoned at their Denver headquarters just before 8 a.m. to power the system on. They claimed about 79,000 people had attended the Connect for Health Colorado website and the website had received over 12 million hits by 8 p.m. on the first day. In the first hours, many clients could not register new accounts, and technology managers had to re-load the system to attempt to regulate traffic jams. They announced the problems in Colorado having relation to high traffic rather than to software glitches with the complex system. By 8 p.m. they claimed 5,500 people had registered accounts. Managers refused to explain how many had actually bought healthcare insurance.
All over the country, Obamacare opposing parties pursuaded people not to check in lest they get used to the “government sugar” of health care system. And conservative groups ran ads displaying a endangering Uncle Sam carrying out women’s health exams. But in Colorado, groups opposing health care were largely MIA while advocates celebrated “a huge, huge win for health reform.”
“This is not something you can come back in the bottle,” claimed Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI), a consortium of advocacy groups all over the state. “The Republicans discontinued work of the federal government over Obamacare because they’re anxious about people who really do desire to follow health care reform.”
De Percin announced she was amazed by the tremendous interest that became a system crashes cause.
“We didn’t just look at it in Colorado. We saw it everywhere from Rhode Island to California,” she claimed.
Consumers are sending a powerful message that Obamacare opponents should heed, advocates said.
“What we’ve observed today is the tremendous interest in Colorado in accessing to care so people can see their own doctor without unexpectedly costs,” said Adam Fox, CCHI’s director of strategic engagement.
Added de Percin: “Ultimately the interest in access to coverage and care is not something you can manufacture.”
Online system offline for tax subsidies
In Colorado, shoppers cannot ask for federal tax subsidies by means of the online system for the first month. Instead they should come in contact to Colorado’s toll-free number, 1-855-PLANS -4-YOU (1-855-752-6749), which also was slammed on Tuesday.
About 190 customer service agents working at a call center in Colorado Springs handled about 3,700 calls and online chats throughout the day Tuesday, managers said. Exchange CEO and Executive Director Patty Fontneau claimed she was amazed by the high chats’ number.
We did come across with some intermittent error messages as people were regestering accounts, Fontneau announced. We’ve been overwhelmed with interest..It shows strong consumer interest in our site. We wait for this to increase over time.
At the top, wait times were over 6 minutes as agents spent more than 10 minutes with each caller. Managers claimed the call times had enhanced later in the day and had averaged 3 minutes 49 seconds over the entire first day. Chief Operating Officer Lindy Hinman says she plans to evaluate whether Connect for Health has enough agents practiced to take under control interest rush.
Colorado’s health care exchange is a cooperation between Connect for Health, a public entity that performs outside state government, and the state agency that manages Medicaid, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). Colorado is one of the states that has opted for another key component of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion. The law allows coverage for a larger segment of lower-income people to qualify for Medicaid.
Overall, Colorado expects to add as many as 160,000 newly eligible Medicaid clients as Obamacare ramps up.
HCPF Executive Director Sue Birch claimed that more than 2,900 people had asked for Medicaid by late morning on Tuesday.
“Typically we’re around 1,500 a day. In the first four hours, we had 3,000. It’s clearly higher traffic,” Birch said. “We are so surprised and delighted with how the day has gone.
“We’re one of the few states that have the operating standards to make real-time determinations (if people qualify for Medicaid). This is a main distinction. It’s going really, really well,” Birch claimed.
Both Birch and Fontneau announced the two facolities had communicability throughout the day. Mixing two systems has been a fight, and last minute challenges advanced the delay in permitting Colorado clients to ask for tax subsidies online until November.
‘People are dying because they feel lack in treatment’
Among those eager to register Tuesday morning was a refugee from Eritrea who has lived in the U.S. for three years.
“I’d like to buy insurance. I suffer from diabet and I am reqired drugs and examinations. Right now, after tomorrow, I will be out of one of my drugs,” claimed the woman, 56, who asked to go by the name Leteberhan because she is afraid for family members still living her home country.
Leteberhans eyes welled with tears as she deliberated a life full of violence and religious persecution that spurred her to leave her country and come to Colorado with two grown daughters.
We weren’t let idolize in my country. I’m a hard worker. I don’t like war, war, war. I have been through it all my life since I was a teenager,” she claimed.
She announced several family participants have died and others are prisoned.
Now, she feels like she’ll be gaining the lottery here if she gets health insurance, but still, she worries about others who won’t get it.
“This is humanity. It’s not only for me. I’m a human being in a big country. People are dying because they suffer from treatment lack. You have a lot of doctors, more than Africa, but you don’t treat people,” Leteberhan claimed.
She arrived at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Colorado African Organization near her home in southeast Denver, one of several help sites all over the state that is proposing face-to-face assistance. There, Sara Maru was ready to assist. Maru is from Ethiopia. Speaking in multiple languages, the two women shipped on a journey to register that would take hours.
At first, Leteberhan had to go back home to get pay stubs and tax documents in case she needed them to qualify for a tax subsidy.
She came back and, while two other men sat in the waiting room eager for help, the women had some trouble with the Connect for Health website.
“We can’t sign in. I don’t know what’s wrong with Connect for Health. We arranged an account, but now we can’t sign in with it,” Maru said. “I just tried to show her the plans.”
Then Maru tried a different avenue. She entered the womans name, Zip Code and the very low income she earns working as a caregiver and medication specialist an assisted living center. They got preliminary good news.
“It shows me she’s eligible for Medicaid. So we will start PEAK (the online Colorado system for Medicaid),” Maru said.
Leteberhan first came for help two weeks ago when Maru was still getting trained. Maru had done extensive outreach sessions at schools and public meetings for people who have come to Colorado from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burma and Bhutan.
Maru has explained that even if she gets signed up immediately, she won’t be eligible to receive care until Jan. 1. Still Letberhan was the first person in line on Tuesday.
“I have the time. I’m off today,” she said.
She never had health problems until she came to the U.S.
“It’s strange. I became diabetic when I came here. I never had any history in my life. My grandma is 101. It’s stress,” she said.
After spending hours working on Leteberhans application, the women finally gave up on the first day. Leteberhan is considering going back, but also may not bother trying to sign up again. Most of all, she’d like to be able to go home to Eritrea to bring back herbs that might help her be healthier.
“I know the treatment, but I don’t have a passport to leave,” she said.
So, instead, until she’s covered, she’ll have to spend $60 to get an exam so she can refill her medications.
“It’s not like Africa. If I were in Africa, I would show (the pharmacist) the bottle and they would refill them for me,” she said.
Leteberhan is persistent and well educated. She has an advanced degree in international social science and speaks multiple languages including German, English, Italian, some French and two African languages. Still, the U.S. health system confounds her.
“I’m happy (I might get Medicaid), but I am unhappy also about how the rest of my community or the rest of Americans — even white people who are begging at the road — will do. I am concerned about them,” she said. “What if I qualify and somebody else is not qualified?”
Maru said she has been in touch with other refugees who do not speak English and have tried to call the Connect for Health number in recent weeks.
“It’s a long process. It could take hours for translation. Last time they called, they were told there was a waiting list and they would get a call back. They still haven’t gotten called,” Maru claimed .
Florian Ezui is a specialist of mental health from Togo and a participant of the Colorado African Organization board. He waits for refugees to demand a great deal of assistance.
“The population we serve is not going to be the first jumpers who are signing up for the Affordable Care law because they are still confused,” Ezui said. “We’re going to be working with them to lead them…but most are not going to decide by themselves.”
Latinos Targeted for My Canadian Pharmacy Health Care
Across town at Denver Health’s Westside Community Health Center, care workers who speak Spanish were attempting to teach patients about the Affordable Care Act and foster them to check out Connect for Health.
Olga Portilla was leaving an post with her 2-month-old daughter Brianna, when ocare worker, Evon Venitez of the group, Servicios de la Raza, arrested her to speak and hand out a Spanish flyer for Connect for Health.
Portilla currently has Medicaid for herself and her daughter, but is worried that it will expire.
“I have insurance but I have a lot of questions about whether I’ll be able to keep it,” Portilla said to Venitez as the two chatted in Spanish and Brianna dozed in her mother’s arms.
Venitez has been encouraging people to call her and is thrilled that her calendar is full of appointments.
“It’s going awesome,” Venitez said. “If you have questions, I’ll navigate the system for you.”
Latinos will be heavily targeted in Colorado as health reform goes into full effect because so many are uncovered.
“We’ve been having great conversations,” declaired Cristina Aguilar, interim executive director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, who also reached out to patients at Denver Health.
“We have about 800,000 uninsured in Colorado and about 680,000 of them are Latinos. The demand could not be bigger,” Aguilar claimed, as she released brochures in English and Spanish and urged people to do something.
Aguilar claimed health care insurance lack in the Latino community has thoroughly relation to economics.
“There is a great number of Latinos who are living at or below the poverty line,” she announced. Most have jobs that come without health care insurance, so they spend little time searching it out.
“They’re just trying to worry about getting food on the table,” she said. “Today is so important because there is finally an opportunity to access care.”
Dr. William Burman, executive director of Denver Public Health and a specialist in infectious diseases, also came to the Westside clinic to celebrate the launch of Obamacare.
“We late in are beginning to address what has long been a gaping hole in our system,” Burman claimed. “One hundred thousand people in Denver lack health care insurance. That’s one in five people. We all pay for the care of those who don’t have insurance.”
Burman expects explored care to enhance the lives of individuals who get health care insurance, but also to assist the business community and the bigger community at large. Each year, Burman claimed the employers percentage who are proposing health coverage has leveled down. Expecting people with insurance to continue to cover the costs of the uninsured is simply unsustainable, he claimed.
“For those who are suitable, the news is good. They will get prevention care. In case of chronic diseases, like diabetes and asthma, they will get assistance examining these diseases,” Burman said. “Today is a great day. I think it’s a really big day.”