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Uninsured Hoosiers Face Learning Curve With Health Exchange

The health exchange website has been stalled. Error messages say too many people are trying to access the site.

While the federal government is dealing with continuing glitches on the health exchange website, an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Hoosiers are using this time to do their homework and research the options available.

Nearly a million Hoosiers are eligible to buy healthcare through the exchanges that went online October first.  But officials are refusing to give out enrollment information detailing how many people have already signed up for insurance through the exchanges.

“The enrollment period is six months long and we’re only a month, five weeks into the enrollment period so people have time yet to do their homework – figure out what’s best for them and their families,” says Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Falk.

People have to sign up by December 15 if they want their coverage to begin January 1.  The enrollment period extends through March 31, 2014.

At a public forum last night in Indianapolis representatives from Anthem Insurance, MDWise Inc., and Indiana lawmakers fielded questions about the thirty-four health insurance options offered to approximately 1 million Hoosiers who qualify.

Dozens of people came out to ask questions about their particular situation.

Karen Williams’ daughter is a single mom with three kids. Her daughter is getting dropped from her existing plan and will have to go to the exchanges for coverage. Williams says her daughter is going to end up paying more for less coverage.  She blames it on a lack of options in Indiana.

“I know that not having the exchange can affect the rates Hoosiers pay for insurance, driving those costs up and limiting the choices we have for healthcare,” she says.

Anthem is the only provider that serves all 92 counties, and Regional Vice President Joe Gilbert says Anthem wants competition.

“Competition is  good for the consumer,” he says. “It is even good for the insurance companies. So there are a handful of regions where there are no competitors.”

Taylor Killough contributed to this report.

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