Healthcare.gov Counselor Updates On Enrollment Efforts

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Healthcare.gov Counselor Updates On Enrollment Efforts

Premiere Date: 
November 29, 2013

Elissa Sprecher, a certified application counselor, helps people enroll in the exchanges.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

The state Assembly is expected to vote in special session next week on the extension of BadgerCare and the high risk insurance plan. Meanwhile, Saturday marks the day when the Obama administration promised the healthcare.gov website would be fully operational. Just ahead of that deadline I checked in with application counselor Elissa Sprecher at the Dane County Job Center to see how enrollment is going.

Elissa Sprecher:

It's actually gotten a lot better in the process as we’ve continue through October and November. We have been successful at completing more applications with individuals this month's than we were last month. And then we’ve also started to implement paper applications as well.

Frederica Freyberg:

And you're doing the paper because the website isn't always reliable?

Elissa Sprecher:

Right. You know, sometimes for some people, you know, they get hung up on certain things. And we've just been letting people know, you know, so it's not just a failed trip to come in, that we can help them do a paper application instead kind of at least get that in the mail and the process started for them.

Frederica Freyberg:

What are the numbers like in terms of people who have successfully enrolled?

Elissa Sprecher:

I don't know specific numbers. But like I said, we've had more luck this last month as opposed to in October.

Frederica Freyberg:

And what are the experiences of the consumers who have managed to enroll and find a plan in terms of the costs of those plans? Are people surprised because they're so high, or surprised because they're affordable? What are you finding?

Elissa Sprecher:

I think more people are more surprised that they're affordable, opposed to high. I mean, it all depends on, you know, what HMO you select, and how much out-of-pocket costs you want, and deductibles and whatnot. But I think for the most part, based on the premium tax credits people are eligible for and the cost-sharing subsidies, people have been pretty happy.

Frederica Freyberg:

What are your concerns about whether or not because of the difficulties with the website and all of, you know, the distractions surrounding this rollout, whether people will be frustrated, you know, try once or twice or more and then just give up and never try to get into the marketplace?

Elissa Sprecher:

With the experience that we've had, people have actually been pretty receptive. If they have to come in a couple of times, I think they're-- you know, they might not be necessarily, you know, too thrilled coming in multiple times. But people overall have been pretty receptive, and thankful for the help, and kind of guidance in this whole process.

Frederica Freyberg:

Do people start out at home trying to do it and then say, I need some help? Or what are you seeing in terms of the people who come to the job site?

Elissa Sprecher:

It's a little bit a mixture of everything. Mostly, mostly, people coming in here have not tried it at all on their own. And just thought that it would be better off to get some assistance navigating the website or, you know, any questions that they needed to be answered. And just kind of the overall, what does the Affordable Care Act mean, you know, what am I eligible for? What are my next steps from, you know, knowing this information? Where do I go from here?

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, we know that there's a special session being called on the part of the legislature to address kind of delaying people who were having to move off BadgerCare into the marketplace as well as the people on the high risk insurance plans. Is that causing more confusion on the part of consumers, or is it kind of a relief that they have extra time now?

Elissa Sprecher:

I think it's a little bit of both. I think-- More than anything, I think it's probably relief for some people, you know, those people on HIRSP, those individuals transitioning from BadgerCare to the marketplace, you know, that they have a little bit more time. I think it's mostly a relief for people.

Frederica Freyberg:

I've been following a Wausau woman losing her high risk plan as she tries to enroll in the healthcare exchange. Despite the governor's call for an extension, she tells me counselors have been encouraging her to get the new coverage beginning January 1st so as not to rack up deductibles in two separate plans in the same year. 


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