Patients stuck as Iowa lags on insurance applications - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Patients stuck as Iowa lags on insurance applications

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STEAMBOAT ROCK (KWWL) -

Iowa officials admit the state has fallen behind in processing Affordable Care Act insurance applications, so much so that they asked state employees to work overtime on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to catch up.

Bonni Holiday first logged on to healthcare.gov this fall.

"And got hung up and got hung up and got hung up," she said.

She was covered by IowaCare, but that program expired at the end of 2013. So she tried to sign up for coverage on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website.

"And I got about halfway through and it said, 'Sorry, we're experiencing service problems,'" Holiday said.

So she applied by phone, and was told her application was complete, but that wasn't entirely true.

DHS spokesperson Amy McCoy said there are currently 5,200 duplicate applications gumming up the system -- applications filed both here in Iowa and on healthcare.gov.

Those pending applications represent thousands of people, just like Bonni, waiting for healthcare.

"(I'm) very frustrated," she said. "I have to got to the doctor on a monthly basis because I'm diabetic and that's a chronic condition. Even for my medicine, that comes out to be like $750 a month."

McCoy confirmed that DHS asked employees to work on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at overtime pay rates to catch up on applications. She said 200 employees came in to work.

"Going forward, we are working diligently so that Iowans may have coverage effective the first day of the month in which their application is dated," said Amy McCoy, spokesperson for DHS. "Applications are being processed based on the date received. Federal regulations allow for up to 45 days to process applications."

Holiday said she just wants to be insured again. Healthcare.gov shows her application is complete, but she is still getting letters from the state looking for more information.

"Somebody is not getting something straight," Holiday said. "You have too many hands trying to do too many different things ... I know that I cannot go without my insulin everyday or else I'll end up sick. Then, I'll end up in the hospital and that becomes a snowballing effect."

McCoy said the DHS has received more than 23,000 total applications as of January. She also sent the following information for Iowans that need help applying:

    · They can call the DHS Contact Center at 1-855-889-7985 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday- Friday, excluding holidays, or visit the state portal.

    · If individuals want help locally from a Navigator or Certified Application Counselor organization, here is the link to "find local help": https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/

    · In addition, if they want to call the federal call center for assistance, the number is listed on the Healthcare.gov site here: https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/ They can help finish applications, compare plans, enroll or answer questions and are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 1-800-318-2596 TTY: 1-855-889-4325

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