Local health center counselors deal with delays on HealthCare.Gov

Local health center counselors deal with delays on HealthCare.Gov

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The main issue behind the shutdown is the debate over the President Obama's health care plan.

Republicans wanted to pass a budget bill that would have kept the government running while delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday the Franklin C. Fetter Family Health Center in downtown Charleston provided certified counselors to help people enroll in a plan through Healthcare.gov.

The counselors dealt with issues with the website slowing down, not allowing patients to finish the application process.

A message asking the applicant to wait sometimes stayed up for more than 30 minutes.

Virginia King, community affairs manager said, "The lines for the marketplace are flooded, so we're not able to let patients go in and look at the plans that are available. So we're doing a lot of education around the marketplace and around the Affordable Care Act," King continued to say, "The most frequent question is people want to know, well what is the marketplace and how do I get in?"

The counselors at Franklin C. Fetter are certified to answer those kinds of questions about the new health insurance marketplace.

King said, "We had to go through about 10 to 15 hours of training."

The Franklin C. Fetter is a non-profit health center, usually placed in areas with high needs of medical care.

"We have a center in Charleston, we have one in North Charleston, one in Cross, and we have one in Summerville, Moncks Corner, Hollywood and Walterboro," said King.

The center received federal funding to have their counselors trained and certified to educate patients, helping them find an affordable plan.

"People are also asking well, I've got this condition or I've got that condition," said King, "Pre-existing conditions are no longer a factor. People can find plans that will allow them to get health insurance even though they have pre-existing conditions."

Counselors will be available until the entire Affordable Care Act is completely rolled out.

King said, "The Affordable Care Act is here, it is the law of the land and the plans are out there and ready for people to view."

Counselors helped more than 60 callers and walk-ins on the first day.

Franklin C. Fetter will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays until 7pm. Monday, Wednesday, Friday their hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.

You have until March 31st to enroll in a health insurance plan if you don't already have a plan of your own.

For those who enroll through the new marketplace by December 15th, your coverage will start January 1st.

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