October 1, 2013

Discounted health coverage available in Maine, but many unaware

Limited public understanding and light publicity may slow enrollment.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Health care exchange

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On the eve of the sign-up period, there were glitches with the health law's rollout. The official website for the Affordable Care Act lists only two sites in Maine where people can visit to ask questions and get help. But the enroll207.com website includes 94 sites statewide, and it wasn't clear why the official site wasn't up to date.

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Health Care Reform
Starting Tuesday, Mainers began enrolling for health insurance coverage under Obamacare. How will you be affected? Send your questions to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. We'll provide the answers as we publish a series of stories throughout September and October on the Affordable Care Act.

As a result, states that will operate their own marketplaces – including Colorado, California and Minnesota – have been flush with television advertising, while states with federally run marketplaces have been left out.

Even though advertising has been weak, many organizations are working to get the word out, and eventually people will know, said Mitchell Stein, policy director with Consumers for Affordable Health Care, an Augusta-based advocacy group.

“The federal market will open. There will be some glitches, but people don’t have to sign up on Tuesday,” the start of the enrollment period, Stein said.

A few signs were up Monday inside the Portland Community Health Center. Outreach specialist Libby Cummings said the staff and more than 30 volunteers are ready to help people sign up for insurance.

Cummings, who is not related to Alyson Cummings, said a table with balloons and signs would be set up outside the health center Tuesday to let people know that they can start enrolling.

Leslie Brancato, CEO of the center, said signage was an important and overlooked point, after a reporter asked about the lack of signs. In response, the health center’s staff ordered signs Monday, to be put on the building permanently once they arrive.

“I think there’s still a lot of people who don’t know, and so we’re going to get those signs put up outside so that people can see them,” Brancato said.

People who are interested in signing up for health insurance in the marketplace can also do so by going to www.healthcare.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or:jlawlor@pressherald.comjlawlor@pressherald.comTwitter: @joelawlorph@joelawlorph

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Today's poll: Health care exchange

Do you plan to sign up for the federal health care exchange?

Yes

No

View Results