13News Now tracks healthcare marketplace enrollment


by Lucy Bustamante, 13News Now


Posted on October 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 12:31 PM

HAMPTON ROADS -- 13News Now is tracking how the enrollment process in the Healthcare Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act is working for Virginians.

We are two weeks into open enrollment and many say they still can't get onto healthcare.gov.

Angelette Harrell is one of 12 people who bought plans with Optima Health. She says she called the phone number after the website didn't work.

"I found Optima health. It was $85 a month," Harrell said.

Harrell works at a care facility for adults with autism and says she couldn't afford an Optima plan that would have been $280 a month without the tax credit, but because she falls at 200% of the poverty line she was eligible for help.

"It felt great. I finally got insured," Harrell said.

It was a different story for Norma Dorey, who owns Changes Hair Salon and City Spa as well as Jake's Place. She wanted to shop the options for her 80 employees.

"We couldn't get passed the password," Dorey said.

Dorey instead chose to get face to face help sponsored by TFA Benefits, a benefits brokerage company for businesses.

"I feel like I have options that I didn't know I had before this meeting," Dorey said.

Dorey says she learned she could offer a group plan for her employees who can afford the group rate and for the employees who can't afford that plan, she can send them to marketplace plans.

The marketplace will offer tax credits that she can not.

"It's good cause i could save them money possibly and save the company money," Dorey said.

For those who are still having trouble getting through, TFA Benefits president Richard Herzberg, says, "If you're looking to apply for coverage right now, I would suggest you'd wait til November 1."

Harrell is happy she didn't.

Optima Health is in the process of verifying individual applications. The government verifies through a contract with Equifax that Harrell is telling the truth about her income level, since her tax credit is based on that number. Her first payment is due January 1. If she misses the payment, Optima says she loses her coverage instantly. Optima spokesman Bobby Pearson says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services first verifies their eligibility and the insurers verify that information.  The IRS will then send a lump sum amount to Optima with itemized information for each member.

While the government isn't reporting how many people have enrolled at this point, 13News Now is checking with each insurance company that's selling plans on the exchange.

Optima Health:   There are twelve plans who's buyers are in the verification process, according to spokesperson Bobby Pearson.

Aetna/Coventry:  We have not disclosed any exchange membership numbers, according to spokesperson Walter Cherniak, Jr.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield: We've has just begun to receive confirmation of enrollment in the federal exchanges from CMS. Although it is too soon to provide Virginia enrollment details at this time, we have seen unprecedented call volumes and heavy web traffic for our exchange plans which is consistent with the experience reported by some state exchanges, according to spokesperson Scott Golden.

We're still waiting to hear from the other companies on the marketplace. A total of nine were authorized to operate on the marketplace back in July.