You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Bumpy first week for ACA signups

It has been a bumpy first week — and a somewhat surreal one — for the launch of the health care marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, which has remained the heart of a partisan dispute that resulted in the first government shutdown in 17 years. — the main portal for government-run marketplaces in 36 states, including Ohio — will temporary shutdown for maintenance at 1 a.m. EDT each night for a few hours this weekend after sustaining a rush from millions of visitors trying to enroll for coverage. While the computer glitches continued Friday as congressional Republicans sought to delay and defund the health care law, federal officials said people have been able to sign up for coverage.

The website will remain open for general information. By Monday, “there will be significant improvements in the online consumer experience,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.

Still, many local residents expressed exasperation.

Amy Harrington of Fairborn said: “I finally made it to the account creation pages and after filling them out again and again it still says ‘account cannot be created at this time, try again in a few moments.’ It also says answers to security questions cannot be the same thing for two or more. My questions were all different with very different answers.”

In its first four days, there have been more than 7.2 million unique visitors to to learn about their options, according to HHS.

Federal officials said they do not expect to release individual state enrollment figures until next month. Yet the rollout, more than four years in the making, and its computer problems has been all but overshadowed by the federal government shutdown.

‘It hasn’t been smooth’

“It has sucked up so much of the oxygen in the room that people have forgotten that the rollout happened,” said Greg Lawson, a policy analyst for The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based conservative think tank. “That’s unfortunate, because it seems to have stumbled out of the gate. It hasn’t been smooth. There has been a lot of confusion, and there will be for a long time.”

Others believe the initial system overload may be a good sign for the overall success of the marketplaces. “There’s a pent-up desire to get coverage,” said Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “People are curious about how it will work.”

He expects the technical issues will be resolved. “It’s not as if on Oct. 1 you flip a switch and everything is transformed.,” he said. “It’s a work in progress. It’s unrealistic to think that on Day 1 the public and businesses are going to understand it all.”

In the first year, more than 166,000 uninsured Ohioans are expected to sign up for health insurance coverage, according to the nonprofit Health Policy Institute of Ohio. The initial enrollment period runs through March 31, with coverage beginning Jan. 1 for those who enroll by Dec. 15.

For Greg Bope of Jamestown, the online process has not gone smoothly. “It won’t let me sign up,” he said. “I’ve been trying since yesterday.”

Dave Stone of Brookville, who was featured in the newspaper on Sept. 23, had the same experience. The 60-year-old respiratory therapist, who has multiple health problems, is trying to figure out if he can afford to retire. “I just spent another day on phone with ACA staff,” he said. “I couldn’t log in, and they are having volume overload.”

Sara Love of Riverside complained the system is geared toward people with computers, even though many of the uninsured don’t have access to the Internet. Love, 64, is on Medicare disability, because she is visually impaired, but she is looking for insurance for her husband.

“I think they could make it easier for people,” she said. “They should make it easier to find a phone number where people can get information. I have not seen it anywhere, and I have been watching for it.”

The couple plans to wait until next week to explore their insurance options, in the hopes that the system will be less overrun.

‘Affordable coverage?’

Bucklew said some of the confusion might have been prevented if state officials had done more to get the word out. “Ohio didn’t do our constituents any favors by not putting any marketing effort into the exchanges,” he said.

Cathy Levine, co-chair of Ohio Consumers for Health Care, said the Gov. John Kasich administration “made a deliberate decision not to obtain federal funding for outreach and consumer assistance. So the outreach will be more robust in states that are taking that initiative.”

The public was gracious about the problems, according to Levine, who helped out Tuesday with a telethon at a Columbus television station, answering questions and enrolling people for coverage.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “The response has been overwhelming. Overnight, the conversation went from ‘love it or hate it’ to, ‘How can I get more affordable coverage?’”

Levine said her biggest frustration this week was the ongoing uncertainty about whether Ohio is going to do a Medicaid expansion: “We took numerous calls from people whose income is not enough to get a subsidy on the exchange. Those people are going to remain uninsured unless the legislature acts quickly to pass Medicaid expansion or the governor exercises his authority to do an executive order.”

Despite and opening-week snafus, Levine feels more upbeat than discouraged. “It’s very exciting that so many people who were invisible in Ohio are now able to shop for affordable coverage,” she said. “I talked to all kinds of people on Tuesday — self-employed people; a woman who is getting divorced; people who are playing by the rules but don’t have affordable health coverage.”

Beware of scams

Another potential peril for new law is consumer fraud, which the newspaper first alerted the state about in May. On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, warned Ohioans to guard against health care-related scams.“Scammers often pretend to be associated with the government to make their ploys seem real,” DeWine said. “We want to warn Ohio families to be on guard for potential scams and to take steps to protect themselves.”

Taylor, who heads the insurance department, is a vocal opponent of the health care law. But she said “it’s imperative Ohioans understand the facts about the ACA and the federal exchange so they can best protect themselves. Because the federal law and the exchanges are new and complicated to consumers, Ohioans should be even more cautious about potential scams and fraudulent behavior.”

Lawson said the process to implement the new law would probably have been smoother if there had been more bipartisan support. “The policy was rammed through, and it’s hard to get support that way,” he said. “It would have been better if there had been more agreement on front end. This is complicated, and there needs to be a very engaged conversation. They could have done a better job with that if there had been a bipartisan consensus.”

Despite the myriad problems with the rollout, Bucklew believes the status quo — with more than 1.5 million Ohioans without health insurance — wasn’t workable. “Doing nothing really wasn’t an option,” he said. “At the end of the day, after the exchanges went live, there were more resources and more information so that you can make decisions that are in the best interests of you and your family.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Explosives fail to bring down Ohio’s tallest bridge
Explosives fail to bring down Ohio’s tallest bridge

Both sides of Interstate 71 at the Jeremiah Morrow bridge are reopened after another failed attempt to destroy the old bridge over the Little Miami River. Dispatchers at the Ohio State Patrol said the interstate opened just before 9 a.m. today after more explosives failed to completely down the old bridge. Our news partner WCPO is reporting cranes...
Body found in Grand Canyon likely boy swept away with step-grandmother
Body found in Grand Canyon likely boy swept away with step-grandmother

Grand Canyon National Park officials said Friday that a body found is likely that of a 14-year-old hiker who went missing in the park two weeks ago with his step-grandmother. According to the New York Post, Jackson Standefer of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was swept away along with LouAnn Merrell when the two were crossing a creek on April 15...
Masonic home celebrating 125 years
Masonic home celebrating 125 years

The Springfield Masonic Community is celebrating 125 years and is promoting recent renovations to its facilities on the historic Springfield campus. Originally built in 1892, the Springfield Masonic Community provides a range of services to residents 55 and older, including skilled nursing, rehabilitation, post-acute care and extended-care services...
Patchy fog to start the day; more storms due this week
Patchy fog to start the day; more storms due this week

Showers and storms tonight Cooler temperatures this week More storms possible Thursday Today: Partly to mostly cloudy skies today with highs in the middle 80s. It will be warm, breezy and muggy. While a stray shower or storm can’t be ruled out, it appears most of the afternoon should be dry. The chance for more showers and storms...
Florida principal under fire for allegedly telling staff to put white students in same class
Florida principal under fire for allegedly telling staff to put white students in same class

A Florida principal earned a swift reprimand after allegedly instructing her staff to put white students in the same class. Christine Hoffman is principal of Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg. Her school is majority African-American, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Earlier this year, Hoffman reportedly sent an email to school staff...
More Stories