Dealing with the HealthCare.gov glitches

The HealthCare.gov website hampered the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.Oct. 1 marked the first day of the federal, online health care exchanges on the website HealthCare.gov, and so far the biggest news about the portal has been its many glitches. Approximately 20 million people attempted to log on and register for health insurance on the website in its first three weeks of existence, but less than 10 percent of them were able to complete the process.1

For college students, the difficulties might not be as immediate of an issue, since the Affordable Care Act makes it possible for young people to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old. But for those who aren’t eligible, whose parents don’t have insurance, or who are pursuing careers in medical assisting, coding and billing or any other health care field, the ramifications of the technological issues could be far-reaching.

A rocky start

There has been intense debate over nearly every aspect of the ACA since it was first introduced as legislation in 2008. The fact that its most public feature – the exchanges – are off to such a problematic start may work to delay the law’s acceptance by the general public, even among those who were eager for its implementation.

The battle to control soaring health care costs is one that will be going on in the United States for many years.2 For medical support professionals, that should lead to increased employment opportunities, as tighter regulation and more stringent record requirements will help expand the job market.3 But it also likely means that they will be on the front lines of instituting, and helping people to understand, the law.

It also means that medical assistant training and other academic programs for health care professionals are more necessary than ever.

Practical effects

If you’re a college student who was hoping to sign up for insurance through the marketplace and have had a difficult time doing so, or have been holding off because of all the reports attesting to the technological issues, there are a few ways you can still get coverage despite those problems.

Many people have been taking an “old-fashioned” approach, simply calling the website’s help line. And while that has significantly added to wait times, it at least provides an alternative if you haven’t been able to get coverage on the web. The phone number to call if you want to take this route is: 1-800-318-2596.

1 Mangan, Dan, “Vast Majority of Obamacare Exchange Visitors Don’t Enroll,” CNBC.com, Oct. 16, 2013. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101117597
2 Stanton, Mark A., “Reducing Costs in the Health Care System,” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/legacy/research/costsria/
3 “10 Careers Boosted By Obamacare,” Marketwatch.com, Oct. 1, 2013. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-jobs-created-by-obamacare-2013-08-05

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