It's been two weeks since the Affordable Care Act went live and so far, agencies have reported only one Alaskan has successfully enrolled in the new program.
Major online glitches have prevented many from signing up for the health insurance being offered.
Signing up for a new government health insurance plan is supposed to be easy according to those who touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. The first step is log onto www.healthcare.gov, but just a few clicks later Alaskans are running into major problems.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says the system is not working out as advertised, despite three years in the making and a $400 million price tag.
"Instead of pulling back, which I thinking would've been the responsible thing for the administration to do, they went full tilt ahead," Murkowski said. "This is where we are today, with people all over the country and certainly people in Alaska frustrated."
In Alaska, two major organizations, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and United Way, received federal funding to hire and train navigators, people who can assist others in the enrollment process.
The United Way now has three navigators and one in training. After two weeks into the enrollment period, not one person has been able to sign up despite the navigator's help, according to Sue Brogan, UW Vice President of Income and Health. In the last few days, she says navigators have experienced small improvements in the website’s function.
"Our one navigator here and one in Juneau has actually got on, created a profile and got all the way to the tax determination section before its shut down," Brogan said.
Enroll Alaska, a Northrim benefits group insurance brokerage, has more than 25 agents working to help Alaskans as they make their insurance selections. As of Monday, one person had signed up. Due to online glitches with the system, no other enrollments have been successfully completed.
"Not really a good way to start a program that again they've had three years to prepare for an millions of invested in and it is not doing what folks had hoped," Murkowski said.
When the system does begin to work effectively, United Way and Enroll Alaska plan to contact folks who were unsuccessful in their first attempt. In the meantime, people are encouraged to use read up on the health care plans being offered.
"We're all working towards the same goal and that is to enroll as many folks as we can into health care, really to at the end of the day hopefully have a healthier Alaska," Brogan said.
For those seeking insurance to start by the first of the year, the sign-up deadline is December 15, 2013.