The Affordable Care Act and you: Part 9

By WEEK Producer

October 23, 2013 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- In the first three weeks of open enrollment, the healthcare.gov website has had more than 19 million visitors.

Local health departments are not having any better access to the health insurance marketplace than the rest of us. Now, the website issues are forcing them to push things back.

For some people, the marketplace website is working just fine.

"I was really very, very happy,” said Holly Hill.

She is in the minority.

"It seemed promising we clicked submit, but it reverted back to the beginning,” said Payal Shah.

Local health departments offering in-person sessions have the same issues.

"It's been a challenge,” said Kelly Stewart.

Stewart is the ACA coordinator for the Peoria City/County Health Department. She said the website news is half good, half not-so-good.

Stewart said people checking their eligibility and signing up for expanded Medicaid on getcoveredillinois.gov are sailing through. The problem is when they try to get on healthcare.gov.

The issues have forced local health departments to re-schedule appointments.

"I would just tell them we'll make an appointment for you, tell them the system's been hit and miss, you know, sometimes it works and sometimes its been a challenge,” Stewart said. “We would let them know that we'll watch the site and if it doesn't seem to be working as efficiently as we would like we'll get in touch with them and let them know before they make the trip over here."

Consumer Reports recommends staying away from healthcare.gov for at least a month. Hopefully that will be long enough to give the software vendors time to clean up the mess.

Coverage does not begin until January 1, 2013 and you have until December 15 to enroll if you need insurance to start on that date.

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