Montanans feel impact of HealthCare.gov glitches


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Nationally, the Government had hoped to sign up 7 million people for health insurance by the end of the day Monday, but numbers released last week put that number closer to 6 million people.

Insurers say Montana is close to reaching federal officials' goal of signing up 31,000 residents.

At the beginning of March, some 22,500 residents had applied for coverage through HealthCare.gov.

NBC Montana checked in with health care navigators in Bozeman to find out if long wait times seen on HealthCare.gov Monday were impacting Montanans. Navigators told us HealthCare.gov got swamped with hundreds of thousands of users just as they were setting up this morning.

People who had made appointments couldn't get on to HealthCare.gov to complete registration. The navigators could still show them plans they might qualify for, but it was a waiting game when it came to actually getting through the signup process.

Bozeman resident Marilyn Lindemulder told us, "We couldn't get in to the marketplace, so they had you call a telephone number and leave your number which puts you on their roll. You're still eligible even though today's the last day."

We spoke to Affordable Care Act counselor Caitlin Bailey, who said, "We just encourage people to continue and call counselors and navigators for help in the next couple days. And hopefully we'll still be able to get them enrolled here."

There are steps you can take if you find yourself unable to log onto HealthCare.gov. Try again during non-peak hours like the late evening, or call the marketplace directly at 1-800-318-2596. If those lines are busy, they will take down your number and call you back.

There will also be boxes you can check online to say you tried to enroll, but technical issues prevented you from finishing.

Folks in Missoula experienced similar difficulties signing up for health care on the federal website at the library. Computer screens froze, accounts said they were locked or disabled. Some had to wait and wait for an email verification.

"We drove into town today to get some help, and well first the website was down and I can't seem to establish a user ID and password. It won't accept me," said Rae Lund, a resident outside of Stevensville.

"The website is not accessible so I had to open up a new email address and I will be back in two weeks to see if I can't get on ObamaCare," said Missoula resident Dana Pairino.

Those without health insurance face a fine of $95. However, according to Missoula navigator Alla Kirilovich, those who have attempted Monday to log in will not be penalized. 

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