Expert: Missourians Should Wait to Enroll in Health Care Exchange

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COLUMBIA - A group helping Missourians enroll in the new health care exchange advised those trying to enroll in the on-line marketplace Tuesday to hold off a few weeks until the websites technicalities are worked out. Tuesday marked the opening day for on-line enrollment and many people experienced difficulties.

Jean Leonatti is the Chief Executive Officer for the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging. The organization is one of three in Columbia that had the proper training Tuesday to help enroll people in the new health insurance marketplace. Leonatti said she had anticipated problems opening day. 

"This is very typical," Leonatti said. "Whenever there's a new technology, there are always glitches the first few weeks."

Leonatti said she attempted to log on to the website throughout the day with no luck. She said she did not help enroll anyone Tuesday because she had encouraged those interested to hold off.

"We just encourage people to sit down, relax, and let them work all the glitches out," Leonatti said. "In a week or two we'll get on there and be able to do what needs to be done."

Leonatti said the on-line system allows people to get information about health insurance plans and cost cuts they qualify for. 

"It asks questions about you: Your situation, if you have health insurance or not, what your income is," Leonatti said. "Then you can immediately know if you're eligible or not and if you're eligible for any cost savings."

Leonatti said the on-line marketplace is easy to navigate and said she thinks most people will be able to enroll without help. 

"I think most people will be able to do it themselves," Leonatti said. "If you don't feel comfortable or needs things explained a little bit better, then you should reach out to a navigator."

There are four different levels of health insurance plans that will be offered, but all of them have to provide minimum coverage for essential benefits. People can enroll until March and Leonatti encourages people wait to enroll until they understand the new health care program.

"We have some time here for people to get on, get educated, and get informed on what is going on and look at their own family situations."

Leonatti said between 800,000 and 1 million Missourians do not have health insurance and said she thinks the program will have positive long term effects.