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Low W.Va. Enrollment Numbers For Affordable Care Act

Reported by: Send eMail Dan Matics
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Nov. 14, 2013 9:02 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 14, 2013 10:48 PM EST

EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

Health Care Sign-Ups
Eyewitness News Photo

Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released numbers that show nearly 7,100 West Virginians applied for Affordable Care Act health coverage through the federal government's website from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2.

In Kentucky, about 50,000 have completed applications. And in Ohio, more than 24,000 residents submitted paper or electronic applications for them and their family.

Perhaps even more disappointing in West Virginia is the number of people who have actually completed the process is fewer than 200.

And those numbers are proving to be frustrating for organizations trying to enroll people.

Eyewitness News spoke with people who need to enroll. Many said they don't want to fool with the website, some saying, "it barely works."

One local organization is offering help to enroll without a computer, but people just aren't showing up.

As Karen Burgess attempted to sign up, there was a lack of trust in the system that requires her by law to be enrolled.

"Getting on the site, and it not working,” she said. “I didn't feel as if it was secure."

The low West Virginia enrollment numbers were echoed Thursday at an open house which enrolls people for free.

They have only had three people come through the door.

"It’s overwhelming,” Marybeth Brubeck, of Valley Health, said. “It's frustrating! We are trying to provide a clearer picture!"

Valley Health has received grant money to help people sign up.

It's done in person with “assisters” who can walk people through the process.

Organizers said a huge misconception is that people can only sign up through the troubled website.

At the open house, it is done in paper.

Burgess was one of the few who showed up and signed up.

"Well, it was a lot more helpful than dealing with a computer," she said. "It’s a big thing, and I’m not good with computers."

As the enrollment deadline draws closer, Burgess and others hope more take advantage of free services like the one offered at the open house, because, right now, the numbers say otherwise.

You don’t have to go in person to enroll by paper. You can print off a form, fill it out and mail it in.

But if you do want someone to walk you through it, there are programs like Valley Health in the Tri-State that are offering walk-ins for free.



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