Internet Inaccessibility Issue for Uninsured

Having access to a computer and the Internet may seem like a basic commodity for most Americans, but for the economically challenged, this is not always the case.

Having access to a computer and the Internet may seem like a basic commodity for most Americans, but for the economically challenged, this is not always the case. Health providers are reporting that many of the uninsured seeking health plans on the exchange are without an e-mail address, making it difficult for them to sign up for coverage.

"If you don’t include an e-mail address, they won’t let you through," said Christela Gomez, the special projects coordinator and lead certification application counselor at The Brownsville Community Health Center. "Quite a few didn’t even know what an e-mail address was.”

The southern Texas health center had 50 people arrive yesterday who were ready to sign up for the exchange. All were equipped with the proper documentation including pay stubs, yet none had e-mail addresses. Some were reluctant to make one, even with the center’s assistance, because they did not own a home computer to access the Internet. While the consumers were able to fill out paper applications, they must wait for a written response from the government to determine their subsidy eligibility, or about other details more easily readable on the web.

Additional glitches have overburdened the exchange websites, and state programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are not yet able to receive patients’ information via the federal website.

"This federal glitch could lead to delays in children getting health coverage," Dr Kyle Janek, executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said in a statement. "We've let workers in our offices around the state know about this issue so they can make sure families have accurate information."

Marylin Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, contested that as with any new product launch, glitches and challenges are likely to occur. "This is Day 1 of a process. We're in a marathon, not a sprint, and we need your help," she said.

Around the Web

HealthCare.Gov Logs 1 Million in First Day [AJMC]

People Without Email Addresses Face Difficulty Enrolling In Exchanges [Kaiser Health News]