CHARLESTON, W.Va. – We’ve all heard or actually experienced the horror stories of trying to sign up on the new health insurance exchange.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only company in West Virginia offering plans through the exchange.  Fred Earley, Highmark’s president, admitted it hasn’t been easy for some people trying to sign up or even browse the site over the past week.

The federal government is in charge of the website. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is only responsible for getting their insurance offerings into the system. There have been a lot of bugs since it went online October 1. However, Earley stressed this is not a sprint, but rather a marathon.

“We still have until the middle of December for people to enroll for products effective January 1,” said Earley. “People can be patient about this and they don’t have to feel like they have to get in there this week or immediately. They have lots of time.”

The federal government is taking the site down a couple of times each week, for a few hours, to fix technical problems that are stopping folks from successfully signing up.  Earley says he believes, by November, the site will be much easier to navigate.

“We think the system is going to continue to improve.”

Highmark is not releasing numbers on how many West Virginians have signed up for insurance through the exchange, so far, or how many people have logged on to the site.  Earley said the company is leaving that information up to the federal government to release.

As for those frustrated by the system, Highmark is offering individual assistance.

“We’ve set up most of our service here locally for that one-on-one interaction with our current customers or our potential customers,” according to Earley.

He warns people not to go on to the site expecting to walk away with “Cadillac” health care for free.  Earley said customers are going to have to pay out of pocket, how much will depend on your financial situation. But anyone who needs insurance, he stressed, shouldn’t shy away from finding out if they qualify.

“I encourage people not to think, ‘Gee, I know I’m not going to be able to afford this.’ I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” he explained. “I do encourage people to go out there and look, call us if they have questions and hopefully they’ll agree, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Earley was a guest on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.

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  • Dave

    The only thing that this law will create is millions of uninsured people in financial distress with the IRS.

  • Robert

    The ACA is a joke. I've head three people create accounts and find what is to be available and none of it is "affordable". Then, of course, they won't allow you to delete your account and information, which having to supply up front is suspect. Why can't users just visit a site, provide answers to a few basic questions and get prices?

    The cost for this? Try $500 million, again more proof of government bloat and ineptitude. And they think they can run a health care delivery system?

    I'm simply ignoring the ACA, it will be interesting to see what ramifications are down the line.

    In the meantime I call BS.

  • wvman75

    I have a question about Obamacare... If poor folks who had no insurance before ACA were visiting emergency rooms and couldn't afford to pay for their care as they went, driving up costs for everyone else, then explain the difference under Obamacare, where the plans have an enormous deductible that must be met before the insurance kicks in. Are the poor folks with lousy insurance going to suddenly come up with the money to meet that deductible? And, if they can't pay it or meet it, how exactly does that change the circumstances we were in to begin with? Won't those folks drive up premiums/costs for everyone else?

    • wvman75

      You're still passing the costs along to other people. More people doesn't make it better. And, emergency rooms still can't refuse treatment if you can't pay on your deductible. They'll still send out letters billing for the treatment, and will still get blown off in most cases by folks who can't or won't pay. I fail to see where that addresses anything, other than being able to say, hey look, people now have insurance. Not worth a crap, but they have insurance.

      • wvman75

        And we haven't even seen how many people are actually signing up for insurance. They won't release those numbers. I have my suspicions why. Next, it'll be young folks who did sign up, and then decide they don't want to part with that income and drop coverage. I see a whole new goatscrew in the government even being able to identify those people and at least collect the tax penalty. The system they put in place hasn't exactly been effective. I still say Obama needs to delay the individual mandate like he did the corporate mandate. AND NO WAIVERS FOR ANYONE. Everyone needs to obey the same mandate and follow the same rules. Without exception.

        • wvman75

          And I'm still concerned that all players aren't being required to play by the same rules that were forced upon the American people. And I feel the evidence is there that people across the board are going to pay more money for less coverage than they had available to them previously.

          And it's still not going to address the underlying problems that existed beforehand. He just exacerbated the problem, he didn't fix it.

  • outdoor girl

    Great reply, Luke. I believe after 2014 when all these people sign onto obamacare they are going to have a big surprise. Just another bunch of lies to the American people.

  • Luke

    Sherry I hope you get yours, but for the majority of Americans, this will mean lost employer health care coverage, increased premiums despite high deductibles, lost jobs, increased unemployment, increased size of government, having your weekly hours reduced below 30 hours per week, ever increasing income taxes on the ever dwindling number of Americans who pay income taxes, government intrusion into your private health care records, invasion of ones privacy, and being forced to buy a product that you may not want or need.

    Other than that and a several dozen other problems, there isn't anything wrong with Obamacare. So you just get you handout from the government and keep voting for those socialists you adore, but when the goverrnment runs out of taxpayer dollars aas they are right now, don't come complaining about your plight in life.

  • Sherry

    Is there ever positive comments on this site? Hey, people without insurance will now have the opportunity to get insurance even if they have pre existing conditions. What is bad about that?

    • Dave

      Sherry, your ignorance is appalling.

    • Shawn H

      Just wait until you, or one of your parents or, God forbid, one of your kids are told by the death panel that they are just not worth the money and that the gov just can't afford to give you care because your quality of life is just not high enough. And before you libs start squawling about the fact that the death panels are not in the HC bill, you are correct. The AFA says nothing about death panels. The death panels are in the stimulus bill. Both bills were written by the same people. The unions who fought for these bills and then fought even harder to get an exemption from them.

    • Wowbagger

      With a high enough deductible you are in the same situation you were in before the "Affordable" Care Act except you will be fined if you do not purchase insurance.

  • Jephre

    Premiums will be kept artificially low through taxpayer-funded subsidies; the true cost to a family or an individual will show up through much higher deductibles and copays.

    • NCWV

      Or, next fiscal year when they come back and ask House Finance for an additional 5 trillion $$ because they underestimated how far that first 5 trillion $$ would go. If illegals can't get Obamacare, we still have to foot their unpaid bills for those anchor babies too. If we let them on Obamacare, we still get to pay all those subsidies.

  • doug

    Golly, I thought the problem was that there was such a demand it was over riding the server. Now they are admitting there was an actual problem with the site? Oh my lord....could they really be lying to us?

  • doug

    Golly, I thought the problem was that there was such a demand it was over riding the server. Now they are admitting there was an actual problem with the site? Oh my lord....could they really be lying to us.

  • bulldog95

    No one is releasing numbers because it will show that people dont want this. Its actually quite clever to have a system fail that way they can blame the website glitches on the low enrollment.