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Health care website experiences glitch

A federally operated website designed to help people choose health care plans under the Affordable Care Act experienced some glitches on its opening day.

Many who visited www.healthcare.gov saw error messages, most of which resulted from the high traffic to the site, said Jeremiah Samples, assistant to the secretary for the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some error messages told visitors an account had not been created yet. Others said a timeout had occurred or that the site was experiencing high traffic, Samples said.

However, the state website, www.wvinroads.org, which was meant to help state residents determine their eligibility for different kinds of assistance, had a good launch, Samples said.

Residents can use the state site to determine whether they qualify for programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, long-term care, Medicare Premium Assistance, cash assistance/work training, home energy assistance and school clothing vouchers.

Ineligible residents are directed to the federal website.

In the last two weeks, about 45,000 West Virginians signed up for automatic enrollment in the Medicaid program, according to The Associated Press.

"No major problems as of yet have been identified," Samples said. "We are early into the process but I'm not hearing any major issues taking place in state offices."

Other organizations in the state also offered a helping hand to understand the new health care exchange marketplace or the Medicaid expansion.

West Virginians for Affordable Health Care held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the new exchange. Executive Director Perry Bryant said about 170,000 uninsured West Virginians are eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act's programs. 

Bryant said in anticipation of the exchange, the organization has trained more than 850 volunteers to educate people about the new health care law and the enrollment process.

West Virginia Free, a reproductive health organization, also launched a website, goenrollwv.org. It has a special feature directing people to local agencies to help with the enrollment process.

In the Tuesday news conference, Camilla Eubanks, the organization's research and development director, said the website will reach a younger audience since it readily can be accessed from a mobile device.

Sherri Ferrell, chief financial and operating officer for the West Virginia Primary Care Association, said the community health centers have about 50 certified application counselors to provide assistance to people seeking information on Medicaid or the marketplace.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office also announced Tuesday that his office has launched a tip line for people having problems during or after the enrollment process.

In his office's news release, Morrisey said his office is concerned about the possibility of identity theft and asked people to contact his office at 800-368-8808 if they experience any issues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at Andrea.Lannom@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.

 


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