Oklahomans and the Affordable Care Act: How is Sign-Up Going?
By Caitlin Alexander
A report indicates thousands of Oklahomans have applied for health insurance through the marketplace. Only hundreds have completed that process. Some experts around the area are not surprised by the news.Recent numbers show 6,905 Oklahomans have applied in the marketplace. 346 have purchased a marketplace plan. Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt said the slow start is not alarming. He said the healthcare.gov website problems are part of the reason for the low enrollment. However, he said that state officials' opposition to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, might contribute to the low numbers too."There's a lot of good in this act, but it became very political, and Oklahoma made clear that it wasn't going to cooperate in any way," Blatt said. He admitted that the federal government did "drop the ball" when it comes to the technical difficulties.Blatt expects more Oklahomans will enroll as the website problems lessen and more people learn of the opportunities.He said some Oklahomans might utilize other websites, like HealthSherpa for research on insurance plans.Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma said it has seen changes in health enrollment since the marketplace launched October 1st.A representative for BCBSOK said, "While we do not report specific enrollment results, the pace of enrollment has improved over time as the government has addressed technical issues associated with the marketplace... We have been pleased with the number of applications received directly at our Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma website since October 1, and we also continue to experience a steady increase in visits to the site and calls to our customer hotlines." President Obama announced Thursday that the health care law is changing to allow insurance companies the option to continue consumer plans that would otherwise be canceled for the next year. He also admitted the government "fumbled" the rollout of the health care law.Still, Governor Mary Fallin remains skeptical. She said in a statement, "Many of the people who are losing coverage are sick. In Oklahoma, for example, there are over 800 men and women with preexisting health conditions enrolled in the temporary high risk pool. All of them will lose their coverage by the end of the year. If the exchange is not functioning properly by December, they will find themselves uninsured. These are the people who most need our assistance, and yet they are being left high and dry by the incompetence of this administration."Planned Parenthood and Morton Comprehensive Health Services are also providing help to people navigating the enrollment process.
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