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Lingering Signup Struggles as Healthcare Deadline Approaches

By Corey Allen-Young, Education Reporter, cyoung@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 09 2013 05:40:00 PM AKST

Reporter Corey Allen-Young, Photojournalist Eric Sowl

ANCHORAGE -

Some Alaskans continue to struggle to sign up for health insurance plans through the new federal healthcare exchange, and time is quickly running out.

The Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for a plan is two weeks away.

Healthcare.gov, the government healthcare website, was plagued by errors and glitches when it launched in October and caused problems for people all over the country. 

After technical changes and a series of improvements, officials said more people are now signing up for plans. 

With the fast-approaching deadline, insurance brokers like James Smallwood are getting busy.

Smallwood of BenefitMi Healthcare Advocates has helped 25 people purchase insurance policies at a Northway Mall location since December 1. 

But he said there are still some technical roadblocks beyond the troubled website.

On Monday, Smallwood said the marketplace helpline was not able to help provide small business owner Lae Keobouala advice on a family coverage plan.

Keobouala owns Joy's Corner, a cafe in Northway Mall.

With time running out, delays can be frustrating, and the many people who want insurance need to find answers fast.

"The lady gave me the excuse that they are still working on certain features," said Smallwood. "I understand, but the features were working earlier this week and I need it to work again.

"There has to be a solution, and you have to keep pushing until you get one." 

Even with the delays, Keobouala said he is happy to finally have access tot an affordable plan.

"I've been looking for this health insurance for a long long time, and when you go out there, it's more expensive."