Obamacare testing people’s patience - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Obamacare testing people’s patience

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

There are continued frustrations and roadblocks people in the Charlotte area are dealing with after trying to sign up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Some people in Charlotte have become so outraged by the problems, they are threatening violence. An Obamacare navigator filed a police report saying someone called and said, "If I have to go into the office and put a gun to you guy's heads until the system works then I'll do that."

That's an extreme case, but waiting for the Healthcare.gov system to work out the bugs has brought into question the level of patience many people have.

This week we followed one Charlotte man who was just trying to get health insurance and has plenty of patience.

Pernell Knox wanted healthcare coverage and he tried to get it on Monday. He went to an Affordable Care Act event at his library and asked a navigator for help.

"I have already went to the web site and established a marketplace account but I do not know how to go from there."

He was told the process could take an hour to an hour and a half.

"Well, actually I have the time if you do," said Pernell.

"We have appointments elsewhere today," explained the navigator.

He set up an appointment with a navigator for Friday at the Crisis Assistance Ministry.

Knox was early and eager. "I thought when I left here today I would say hey I'm hooked up with a healthcare provider on January 2nd I can schedule appointments,"  he said.

He filled out some paperwork and because of privacy concerns the navigator asked us to stay out of the appointment.

After an hour Knox came out and said how it went.

"We submitted the application two different times. The application did not take," he said.

Healthcare.gov wasn't working.  But Knox said he was able to fill out a paper application.

"But now that I've come to learn that because I'm unemployed and have no income, I do not fall within the category that this health insurance would help me," said Knox.

Knox found out filling out the paper application only ensures he won't have to pay a penalty for not having insurance in 2014. The only healthcare he was told he will have access to are free or sliding-scale clinics.

"It wasn't exactly a total loss. I didn't receive exactly what I was expecting," said Knox, "I assume until the state of North Carolina expands MediCaid this will be a problem."

Knox learned that the affordable care act won't work for him. He was frustrated but surprisingly not angry.

"Hey it may not benefit me right now. But there are people that it will benefit. As long as it benefits some then I'm happy," said Knox.

Knox said he believes in Obamacare because he thinks with more people having healthcare more people will live longer.

He falls into what's called the healthcare coverage gap or donut hole. Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act was written with the idea that all states would expand Medicaid to people with an income that falls below 138% of the federal poverty level or less than 16 thousand dollars a year for one person.

But 26 states including North Carolina chose not to expand Medicaid.  The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates almost 5 million adults will fall into this hole of no coverage.

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