Digital divide forces health care customers to seek Internet at - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Digital divide forces health care customers to seek Internet at libraries

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

An estimated one million people are eligible for coverage in North Carolina under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Obama Administration, 9,000 people in North Carolina have signed up so far. That's up from about 1,600 who signed up in the first month of enrollment.

A key deadline to sign up for coverage under the affordable care act is just over a week away.

While the website is working better, getting online is a challenge for some people. Many are turning to local libraries for free Internet access

Edgar Miller was among those who successfully logged on to healthcare.gov and found coverage, after the site was revamped.

 "It was easy it wasn't as difficult as most people portrayed it to be," he told WBTV. 

Miller, who is self-employed, signed up at the library. But he's hearing the voices of apathy at the very public location.  

"When an individual doesn't take time to go on the site, they're unemployed, they're angry about the situation, "he said."They just prefer to say that rather than actually apply for it."

As the Obama administration continues its road to increase support and boost the numbers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is pitching the plan's positive benefits.

"A lot of people who do not have affordable coverage in their workplace will now have consumer protection like they are used to in employer based insurance, where they can't be locked out because of a pre-existing condition", she said.

Health care doesn't appear to be a priority for those who are homeless, out of work and dependent on free Internet access. To that, Edgar Miller told us, "If you have the desire to get on Facebook and all of these other community pages, then you can certainly find a place to apply for health insurance."

For coverage to start on January 1, consumers must sign up by December 23. Open enrollment continues through March 31.

There are four ways to apply: online at www.healthcare.gov, with a paper application (available on the website), by phone at 1-800-318-2596, or in-person at a local assistance center. Find a center near you on healthcare.gov as well.

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