Glitches keep people from signing up for health coverage - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Glitches keep people from signing up for health coverage

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Even with so much uncertainty in Washington, the new government-run health insurance exchange is charging ahead. Tuesday was the first day people could start shopping for new insurance policies, but plenty of them ran into problems.

At one mobile signup location on Jefferson Street in Nashville, not a single person was able to complete the signup process for the Affordable Care Act at healthcare.gov, as the computer system wouldn't let them get any further than the screen to create a security question.

Jeanette Buchanan, a full-time student who's been without healthcare coverage for several months, came to the signup location with hopes to find a plan Tuesday.

But the computer system wasn't much help in calculating what her premium would be.

"She was trying to see how much I would be paying for insurance. It didn't come out right, so I don't know right now," Buchanan said.

It was a frustrating problem all across the city. Frances Totten, a cosmetologist, couldn't access the health exchange's computer system either.

"Too many people on at one time," she said.

A social services agency added extra staffing Tuesday to handle the "trouble" phone calls, but they still couldn't keep up.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see this not as a computer failure but as an example of the desperate need for healthcare.

Estimates say as many as 120,000 people in Nashville are uninsured.

Mary Branson sells The Contributor for a living and will lose her state-run coverage at the end of the year.

She's hoping the Affordable Care Act will help her pay for the medicine she takes for her rheumatoid arthritis.

"My income is very limited," Branson said.

The bad news is people who make less than about $11,000 a year may not qualify for this program. The federal government believes they should be covered under Medicaid - our version in Tennessee is TennCare - and, so far, the state has not decided to expand TennCare coverage.

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