By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
OSAWATOMIE — Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nil. None.
Slice it any way you want, the answer is still the same: Obamacare navigators told Kansas Watchdog that, because of continued problems with HealthCare.gov, so far they’ve enrolled exactly zero people into the new federal health care exchange that went live more than three weeks ago.
But the consortium guiding the Sunflower State’s health care advisory program is trying to look on the bright side.
“They don’t have to provide that information to us in the report for another month or so, so we don’t have any real good numbers at this point,” said Katrina McGivern, communications coordinator for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved.
So, hey, at least they’ve got time. Any bets on whether HealthCare.gov will be up and running by then?
Now, this isn’t to say there has been a complete dearth of enrollments. Both McGivern and Linda Sheppard with the Kansas Insurance Department say insurance companies have confirmed enrollments are happening, just not through navigators, though no specific number has been provided.
That doesn’t exactly inspire a whole lot of confidence.
So, as it stands, the hundreds of Kansas navigators created, trained and rolled into action courtesy of a nearly $900,000 federal grant have been wholly unable to accomplish their primary goal of enrolling folks into Obamacare. McGivern said many are focusing on educating people for the time being.
Jill Foss, a Hutchinson-based navigator with Prairie Star Health Center, said the rollout is a work in progress.
“I wouldn’t call it frustrating,” Foss said. “It’s a little bit disappointing.”
Valerie Libertus, a navigator with Flint Hills Community Health Center in Emporia, has kept busy filling out applications in preparation for when the federal exchange gets on its feet. So far she has tallied 15 applications – 11 filed electronically, four filled out on paper.
But Sayre Schuck, a Hays-based navigator with First Care Clinic Inc., said she has put off processing physical paperwork in hopes the electronic exchange starts working soon.
“I just think the paper applications are going to take longer (to process),” Schuck said.
Lyle Dotson, a navigator in Dodge City, said most of the people he sees give up and say they’ll try again in a few weeks after hearing about the federal exchange’s enrollment problems.
“I’ve got one (application) to the final stage where it says review and sign but then the system locked up on me,” Dotson said.
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