Signing up without Healthcare.gov - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Signing up without Healthcare.gov

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The war over the Affordable Care Act is a heated subject in Congress. Republicans and even some Democrats are pointing fingers and demanding answers. There's no doubt there are serious problems with the Obamacare website.

It's affecting people across the entire country who need coverage. 17-states are operating their own health care exchanges. But North Carolina is not one of those. It's relying on the Healthcare.gov site that's not really working yet.

The problems with Healthcare.gov are well known. But enrolling in the marketplace isn't just available online through a computer. There's a paper application and a phone number you can call to talk to someone.

"Once you submit your paper application, it takes one to two weeks to get an eligibility determination from the government regarding what kind of subsidies you might qualify for to purchase your health insurance," explained Anand Dwivedi.

Dwivedi is a government-trained navigator. If you want to set up an appointment with a navigator in North Carolina call 1-855-733-3711. Through the appointment hotline, he has sat down with several people to get them started in the process of buying health insurance. But he hasn't been able to complete the process.

"They're working around the clock to improve the problems that are the Web site right now," said Dwivedi.

Healthcare.gov isn't working for navigators or for health insurance salesmen.

"We're seeing the same challenges everybody else is seeing," said Geoff Ricks, President of the Blue Store at North Lake.

Ricks also oversees the BlueCross BlueShield kiosk at Concord Mills Mall. People at Concord Mills Mall can ask questions, find out information and set up appointments for later, like Louis Rivera did.

Rivera said in Spanish he is concerned about paying a fine if he doesn't get insurance.

"There's a lot of people who may need health insurance that may not get a subsidy but maybe were ineligible before. They can sign up now without going to Healthcare.gov. They can come straight to us if they know they're not eligible for a subsidy," said Ricks.

At this time, a Blue Cross Blue Shield agent can't complete the process if you want and qualify for that tax credit.

"From what I understand and what the government has told us you can also enroll by phone," said Dwivedi.

WBTV called 1-800-318-2596. The operator said she couldn't speak with a reporter.

We asked, "For our viewers at home who are going to be seeing this story today, if they called this phone number would they be able to get help?"

The operator's responded, "Absolutely."

Or you could wait for the website to be fixed. But no word on when that will be done.

Because of the website glitches, the White House has softened its position. It is allowing six more weeks for the uninsured to sign up without paying a penalty.

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