TRAVERSE CITY — The four Affordable Care Act Certified Application Counselors at Traverse Health Clinic were nearly booked solid with appointments on the last day people could sign up for health insurance through the federal exchange.
Confusion and frustration were the two things Traverse Health Clinic Executive Director Arlene Brennan heard most about the enrollment process on Monday, but she’s hopeful it will all smooth out in the coming weeks.
“It’s a pretty challenging time,” she said. “It’s kind of like federal tax time, if you let it go until the last day. It really is confusing for some people.”
Leelanau County resident Patti Plowman has been without health insurance for three years. She no longer has a primary care physician, and she hasn’t gone in for routine check-ups the way she used to because she can’t afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs of care.
She tried tackling the Affordable Care Act’s application process on her own, but said it was too overwhelming. She eventually went to the clinic for help.
“I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. I don’t want to fill out something wrong and then end up having to pay a ton of money at the end of the year,” Plowman said.
The clinic’s application counselors blocked out two-hour appointments Monday to walk patients like Plowman through the process. Plowman was able to pick a plan that fit her family’s needs, but ran into a glitch in the system, like many new applicants.
A representative from the exchange assured Plowman she wouldn’t have to pay the fine for not having insurance because she started the process before the deadline passed, but she’d need to wait five to seven days to get the glitch sorted out.