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Glitches reported as PA rolls out healthcare exchange - abc27 WHTM

Glitches reported as PA rolls out healthcare exchange

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SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Terry Bigler likes to sit in front of his bicycle and antique shop on Shippensburg's main thoroughfare.

Terry also likes to talk. A lot.

"Eight years ago I had five bypasses," Bigler says matter-of-factly. "Four years ago, I had a heart attack. I ended up on a heart pump."

Bigler freely tells you he takes 20 pills a day. "And I just added another prescription today."

Terry doesn't like dealing with health insurance, and frankly he's probably an expensive guy for companies to cover.

Highmark recently sent Terry, 60,  a letter canceling his Classic Blue Comprehensive plan that he thought covered him until he was 65. The company said Classic Blue did not meet new federal guidelines under the Affordable Care Act and was being eliminated. The letter directed Terry to the Marketplace, which opened on October 1.

"President Obama said nobody's gonna lose health insurance," Bigler said. He then waved his hand. "But guess what? I lost mine."

Bigler spent $521 per month with the Classic Blue Comprehensive that was eliminated. He's heard rumors similar coverage will cost him more than $1,200 on the federal exchange.

Just after noon on Tuesday he tried to sign up and find out exactly what his insurance options are, but he couldn't get into the online system, healthcare.gov. 

Just before 3 p.m., I tried to get in the system at abc27 studios. I couldn't get past security questions.

Terry and I weren't alone.

Numerous viewers on Facebook reported problems and lodged complaints.

Melinda wrote: "Isn't it ironic that today is the first day to enroll but I can't get past the security questions and today the government is closed?"

Many others tried and failed to enter the system. In an afternoon press conference, President Obama conceded there were glitches to the system but said that's not unexpected and no reason to scrap the system. The president promised the difficulties would be fixed.

Jon, an apparent supporter of Obamacare, wrote on Facebook: "For something allegedly overwhelmingly unpopular that the American people allegedly want to see repealed...the website seems to be awfully popular...judging by how hard it's being hit on day 1. Just sayin?"

But like it or not, and there are plenty of supporters and detractors, thousands of people like Terry must become quick studies in insurance options.

"You're gonna have some serious choices to make about what's going to be appropriate for you," said Brent Ennis of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians. "What are you going to be able to afford based on different plans and accounting for what those monthly premiums are going to be? What those deductibles are going to be? And what your copays are going to be?

Terry said he'd rather scrutinize antiques or fix bicycles than analyze insurance. But he has no choice.

"I don't think the average person is gonna be able to figure out what they need and what they want," Bigler said. "I just think this is too much all at one time."

The federal exchange is mostly for the uninsured who qualify for government assistance, tax credits or subsidies to pay for health insurance.

Uninsured who don't qualify for government help can purchase the same plans directly from private insurance companies.

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