, Miami Herald
November 15, 2014
There were few technical glitches but also few successful sign-ups for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act at enrollment events around Miami-Dade County on Saturday, organizers said.
“This was more about educating consumers and getting them ready to sign up before the deadline [on Feb. 15],” said Milton Vazquez, an organizer for Enroll America, a national nonprofit that advocates for people to obtain coverage under the health law.
At an appearance in Virginia on Saturday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that 23,000 people around the country had submitted an application by 9 a.m.
HHS has set a national target of 9.1 million enrollees for 2015. There are currently 7.1 million people enrolled around the country.
Last year’s roll-out of healthcare.gov was a disaster, as the website froze and crashed when consumers tried to log on.
This year, things appear to be running smoothly, if slowly.
“We’re trying to at least get people into the system today so we can keep signing them up during the enrollment period,” said Vazquez during an event Enroll America helped organize Saturday at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah.
Federally licensed “navigators” and other assisters staffed 13 tables in a converted conference room at the hospital, answering questions from consumers and helping them pick from among the more than 90 health plans being offered in Miami-Dade County.
Luis Calzadilla, 60, of Hialeah was at the Palmetto hospital event with his wife Carmenza, 58. Calzadilla was offered insurance through his job at a civil engineering firm but said he couldn’t afford the premiums — and besides, the plan didn’t cover Carmenza.
He attended the event, he said, “because it’s too confusing for me to go onto the website and look at all the different options.”
With help from a navigator, Calzadilla said he picked out a Humana plan that will cover both him and his wife for about $1,600 per month, though they’ll only pay $800 thanks to a subsidy from the government.
“And we’ll be able to keep the physicians we were visiting,” Calzadilla added.
He didn’t sign up for the plan yet but says he will by the weekend.