Local navigators work around Affordable Care Act sign-up problems

November 4, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Lashonda Bailey had been putting this off.

"They got to get a few issues fixed so it's not like weren't not going to be able to do. We just have to wait," said Lashonda Bailey.

Bailey, 23, is employed by a nonprofit and doesn't have health insurance.

"You don't know when you ever have to go to the emergency room or a doctor," said Bailey.

An in-person counselor at Mt. Sinai is walking Bailey through the process to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Today is a good day getting to the federal website, but there have been bad days.

"When we first started, it would takes hours to get through and it was kind a painful. Now, especially when you had the client right in front of you, now we're going in and it's taking less than a minute," said Victoria Taylor, in-person counselor, Mt. Sinai.

Locally, counselors and navigators have had to have a plan B in case the federal website wasn't running.

"We knew in anticipation of October 1, for example, that there might be problems with the site so we had paper enrollments ready," said Myra Nash-Johnson, program director, Mt. Sinai Health System.

The State's Director of Outreach and Consumer Education for Affordable Care, Brian Gorman, says despite problems with the federal website, the state site has been getting visitors as fast as possible.

"Consumers can find information, they can find assistance in their area, they can find local events where they can find that assistance. And further, when the time comes to make a decision they can be directed to the Medicaid enrollment page or healthcare.gov," said Brian Gorman, IL Director of Outreach and Consumer Education.

Gorman urges those who hit hiccups early on to keep trying. He expects navigators to be very busy as we approach the December 15 deadline, the last day to enroll for coverage January 1.

General information about the Affordable Care Act:

Great resource for small businesses and the ACA:

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