Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says technical problems continue with the new “insurance exchange” website that “opened” on Tuesday to help uninsured Iowans buy health care coverage.
There were definitely some glitches and there continue to be glitches,” he says. “In fact, I am unaware of someone who has successfully enrolled, through the marketplace, to any of these carriers. It may have happened this morning, but as of yesterday, it had not happened.”
Two companies signed up to offer individual policies on the Iowa insurance exchange to any Iowan, while two others are offering individual policies in regions of the state. Iowa’s governor opted for a joint state-federal exchange, which means the website is maintained by the federal government.
“Apparently what we’ve been told from our federal partners is that the volume and the amount of interest has caused the system to come down,” Gerhart says. “We’ve been telling Iowans it’s probably best to wait a week or so. If you want coverage beginning January 1st, you don’t have to enroll until December 15th and the open enrollment period goes all the way to March 31st of next year.”
Gerhart says there’s “nothing he can do” at the state level to fix the computer system.
“We’re getting some frustrated Iowans who are talking to us about: ‘I’ve been online now for three hours and was bumped out. I’ve called the federal call-in number and no one’s answering the calls,'” Gerhart says. “We’ve called the federal call-in number quite successfully a number of times so I’m not very such where that disconnect is. I’ve had staff members get through within 5-10 minutes, on average, but we’ve had some frustrations there and people are just asking: ‘Where can I go to get help?'”
Gerhart says one way to sign up for coverage is to directly contact Coventry Health Care of Iowa or Co-Opportunity Health — the two companies on the exchange that are providing individual policies to any Iowan. Gerhart made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press,” which airs tonight at 7:30.