Mollie Downton has tried to purchase an insurance plan through Healthcare.gov, but each attempt is thwarted by the web site.
“There's basic information out there on the site, but when it comes to actually logging in and finding out the nitty gritty, it was a blank page,” she stated.
And that's the sort of thing thousands of Tennesseans have been experiencing.
At the Main Street Clinic, which is part of United Neighborhood Health Services, the only way people have been able to apply is on paper, a cumbersome and inefficient process.
Will Wyatt, the director of health promotions and enrollment, said it's hit or miss when applicants login to the federal site.
“We are able to get a rough estimate of their subsidies and are able to see the Tennessee plans so we can give them an idea of what coverages are out there. We just can't give them a guarantee on the actual price at this point,” he stated.
That's difficult for most of the patients at the clinic, like Downton, who are uninsured and trying to set a budget.
The federal government is running the state marketplaces for more than 30 states, including Tennessee. Fewer problems have been reported in states running their own exchanges.
Unfortunately, there's not much anyone can do but wait, according to Wyatt. The deadline for insurance coverage is March 31, 2014.
“We have a six-month enrollment program, so we know it's going to be a marathon. We aren't looking to spring to the finish line just yet,” he says.
Still, the hold up with Healthcare.gov makes it difficult, if not impossible, to figure out how many people have successfully enrolled.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is offering plans through the marketplace in every county in Tennessee.
News 2 asked the insurance company how many people have been able to purchase those plans through the marketplace.
A spokesperson stated, “We have received a high volume of calls and seen increased traffic on our Web site as Tennesseans have begun the process of educating themselves about coverage options and costs on the Marketplace. We are taking a long view of the enrollment process since it's open until March 31, 2014. Therefore, we're holding off giving specific numbers at this point.”
According to some tech experts, the problem may be with the system's software and it's ability to communicate with federal databases, like the IRS and Social Security, to determine whether an applicant will receive a subsidy or tax credit.
We may know more soon when the White House promises to release data on enrollment in monthly increments.