AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not yet released public exchange plan application or enrollment figures for Maine, but health groups in the state say consumer interest remains strong.
Maine is letting HHS run its Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange program. HHS began trying to sign consumers up for coverage through the HealthCare.gov enrollment site Oct. 1.
Glitches in the website continue to be a problem for consumers, health groups and insurance companies said Monday at a meeting organized by a committee of lawmakers and health care policy specialists that’s overseeing the Maine exchange program.
Christie Hager, the top HHS official for New England, told the committee via conference call that HHS will not release numbers on how many people have signed up for exchange coverage in Maine until next month.
Hager urged those attempting to sign up for coverage on the exchange in Maine to remain patient. She assured the committee that staff is working around the clock to improve the system.
“As time goes on there will be vastly improved functionality,” she said. “It’s wonderful that we’re all so eager… but we do have a number of weeks even before December 15.”
Health centers have been offering paper applications to those having problems with the federal website, directing people to the call centers and encouraging people to wait a few weeks until the glitches get resolved, said Caroline Zimmerman outreach coordinator for the Maine Primary Care Association.
Kevin Lewis, chief executive of Maine Health Community Options, a health insurer selling coverage through the exchange, said about 5,000 visitors have come to the company’s direct sales portal since Oct. 1, but he said most people will sign up through HealthCare.gov because that’s the only way they can get subsidies. He couldn’t provide a figure for how many people have already used call centers, the Maine Health website or other means to sign up for coverage.