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Health Groups Restart Efforts To Boost Exchange Enrollment

Now that the federal exchange website is running more smoothly, health care groups are again trying to help people sign up for insurance.

health care website

Photo: Screenshot of healthcare.gov

Federal officials say the website healthcare.gov is functioning about 80 percent of the time.

Health care and volunteer organizations in Indiana are starting a second push to make people aware of the health care exchange now that government officials say the website is working smoothly.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials say about 90 percent of people who log on to the health exchange website are now able to successfully complete applications.

That’s good news for some 800,000 Hoosiers who still don’t have insurance—only 700 Hoosiers signed up for coverage in the first month the exchange was online.

But human resources and health care expert Chris Schrader says even if the front end of the website is working, that doesn’t mean people are actually getting insurance. He says in some cases, the government isn’t getting the data to the insurance companies.

“What has started happening is people who thought they had enrolled- they’d been through the whole process so they assumed the plan they had chosen was the plan they were getting,” he says. “So they’ve started calling insurance companies saying where’s the information, I should have gotten something by now. The insurance companies are saying we don’t have anything.”

Still, health care groups are starting another round of awareness campaigns.

Indiana Hospital Association’s vice president of government relations Brian Tabor says many groups have been saving up resources.

“I think you’re going to see more advertising on radio, television, print and other places because people had been keeping their powder dry until the website was improved,” he says.

Indiana University Health is one example. It has postponed sending out direct mailers informing people of how to sign up for health insurance on the exchange.

“Up until now, we weren’t able to get into the website,” says Sherry Susnick, a trained health care navigator for Indiana University Health.

Susnick says she has now helped 10 people enroll, and she and her team are reaching out to individuals who they tried to help early on in the process.

People have until Dec. 23 to enroll if they want coverage by Jan. 1.

Until then, Tabor says groups need to target populations that have largely been ignored—such as rural areas that do not have trained navigators to guide them through the process.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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