Dillard Webster recently retired as the director of emergency management for McPherson County.
As his insurance benefits will expire at the end of the year, he decided to visit the insurance marketplace to explore his options.
Like many people, he found the website less than cooperative.
Webster said the first two times he tried to apply for insurance, he was told the site was too busy. The third time, he managed to get in, but the site locked up shortly thereafter.
“I’m covered so I have time,” Webster said, “but there are some I’m sure who need to find out the cost.”
K-State Research and Extension Agent Jana McKinney said there is no reason for people to panic if they can’t access the site right away as long as they register by mid-December if they need coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014.
She also said while using the site has been frustrating for many, she expects it to get better.
McKinney said part of the problem is that the system is new, so everyone is having to go through the initial steps of setting up an account and filling in personal information, which can take more than an hour.
“This is not going to be a quick process. It will take patience,” McKinney said.
The site asks for information about income, current insurance coverage options, family members and other factors that can affect how much a person pays each month for coverage.
McKinney said once this is entered once, it will probably only need updating in subsequent years, which will make the process shorter. She also recommends skipping optional information.
McKinney said another factor is the system may not be getting upgrades because of the government shutdown.
Katrina McGivern, the communication coordinator for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, said lack of access has been a problem for a lot of people.
“We’ve told everyone to be patient,” McGivern said. “You don’t have to be signed up until Dec. 15 to get coverage by Jan. 1.”
Contact Josh Arnett by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.