The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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October 21, 2013

Insurance enrollments begin to trickle in

DES MOINES — Iowa residents are slowly exploring their options under President Barack Obama’s health care law after technical glitches stalled the rollout of the new federally run online insurance marketplaces.

Detailed enrollment data isn’t available because the federal government, which is running the so-called exchanges in Iowa and 35 other states, has not provided any numbers since the new marketplaces were launched Oct. 1. But a spokeswoman for one of the two insurance companies providing insurance in Iowa through the exchange said they have had 16 people enroll using the federal website during the first two weeks.

Leigh R. McGivern , a spokeswoman for CoOportunity Health, said they expect enrollment to increase in the coming months as the federal government deals with website delays that have plagued the first few weeks of the process.

“I think patience and persistence are the words of the day,” McGivern said.

A spokeswoman for Iowa’s other exchange provider, Coventry Health Care of Iowa, said it was too soon to release any numbers. The Obama administration is not expected to provide enrollment data until later this fall.

Matthew Covington, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which supports the health care law, said he was optimistic people will be able to get enrolled in the coming months.

“Once the rush subsides a bit or they beef up some infrastructure, we’ll see some positive developments,” Covington said. “Darn near everyone knew this wasn’t going to roll out with bells and whistles.”

Under the health care law, which seeks to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance, individuals are required to have health insurance from their employer or purchase it. Those who don’t buy insurance will be assessed a penalty next year. Those shopping for insurance in Iowa should be able to use the federal marketplace website to compare plans and apply for subsidies to help cover the cost. The earliest coverage could begin is Jan. 1.

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