CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield admits enrollment in the individual plans the company is offering to West Virginians through the federal exchange has been “light” since the enrollment period opened on Oct. 1.

Though he would not provide specific numbers, Fred Earley said he is “disappointed” with the ongoing problems with www.healthcare.gov, the enrollment website West Virginia and more than 30 other states are using.

“We’re helping people work through it when they call into us on our lines, but there’s no secret back door that we have, as an insurer, that allows us to circumvent some of the other obstacles that people have been running into from an automated perspective,” said Earley on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We’re still a little frustrated with the lack of functionality.  I know they’re pouring every effort they can into it and we hope it will be sooner, rather than later (when the problems are addressed).”

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is the agency responsible for the website, offered an apology.

“To the millions of Americans who have attempted to use healthcare.gov to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should,” she said.

Tavenner blamed “complex technical difficulties” and promised the problems would be fixed when she testified in front of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.  She also said specific numbers about the number of enrollees would be available by the middle of November.

On Wednesday, Tavenner’s boss, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill in front of members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Earley’s company is the only company offering health insurance plans through West Virginia’s exchange.  “There’s still plenty of time for people to sign up,” he noted.

Penalties for people who do not have insurance are scheduled to take effect, as part of the Affordable Care Act, at the end of March.

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Comments

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  • kensgirl

    Jason, I can sympathize with a person who has apparently done all the right things, and yet still has difficulties. But most of us on here have ALSO done all the right things, and since we are older and have been working longer we are probably making a little more money and are get the screws turned on us in ways that leave us nearly as poorly off as you are to pay for all the people who are NOT doing all the right things. So our outrage is completely justified, and you need not assume that it is aimed at you. I don't understand what you have been looking at as far as insurance plans all these years, but I know when I was on-line a few years ago pricing them for my adult son, I was able to find a reasonably priced plan (about $80/mo.) with a $1250 deductible that would have suited his needs. You won't find that now, because government interference in the market place jacks up EVERYONE'S costs. If you ever finally get onto the gub'mint website, good luck finding an AFFORDABLE plan.

  • D.P.

    George P - I sympathize with you!!! Human nature being what it is, it would be VERY EASY for you to say "Screw it," feign some mental or back disorder (both from what I'm told are very hard to disprove) and join the hordes of "Takers." You probably would make more money, have better benefits and a whole lot more time off!

    Hopefully you don't go this route because sooner or later (and at the rate things are going it will be sooner) this state and country will have no one willing to perform the very valuable work that you do. Good luck and keep your chin up George!!!!!

  • George P

    As a state worker I cannot get a raise because we keep having to pay more and more for people who don't or won't work. I put in a solid 40 hours of work each week, usually more, and what is my reward....cut another 7.5 percent of our budget. And we keep expanding the assistance program. Soon it will be more profitable to stay home and live off the dole.

  • D.P.

    Joe, Martinsburg Resident and David - I'm 100% with the first two of you!!! How could anyone, with ANY COMMON SENSE, have voted for the JOKER who now occupies the Oval Office??? I'll give MOST of them (he sure is a convincing liar while reading the teleprompter) a pass for voting him in the 1st time, but I will give NO ONE a pass for voting this SOCIALIST/LYING/NARCISSISTIC JERK a 2nd term!!!

    David - Obviously you are clueless relative to the "Black Market" in which recipients sell snap cards (there are numerous ways to screw the system) for money or trade for drugs and other goods/services. If you're wondering, NO, I have NEVER received and I have NEVER bought food stamps. It's common knowledge this goes on in the town I live in and I'm SURE it goes on throughout not only WV, but all of the country! Although probably a small percentage, numerous retailers are also in on this gig.

    You sound like a decent guy David, but you seem to be very naive. 95% of us with differing views from yours are not mean! We're just fed up to the gills with the ENTITLEMENT SOCIETY this Socialist President is promoting!!!

    I feel VERY STRONGLY that it is society's responsibility to help take care of those, WHO THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, are in dire straits!!! Sadly, the situation has gotten to the point where MANY ABLE BODIED PEOPLE are gaming the system, at the expense of those of us who work and pay taxes!!!

    We're now finding out (what many of us knew all along) that Obamacare is ANOTHER SCANDAL!!! How many times did the POTUS look directly in the camera and proclaim:
    1. "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it-PERIOD!"
    2. "If you like your Doctor, you can keep him-PERIOD!"
    Before this is all over, MILLIONS will have LOST both of the above!!! These (and most other components of Obamacare) were ABSOLUTE and UNADULTRATED LIES!!! This JERK is rapidly becoming the WORST president EVER!!! Almost five years later, even the Lame Stream/Lap Dog Media is now waking up from their extended denial phase!!!

    This isn't my line but I agree with it 100%: "Welfare (and all the other related entitlements) are meant to be a safety net, NOT A HAMMOCK!!!!!"

    • Jason

      Obamacare isnt just for people who dont work. I work just as many hours as anyone on this forum I guarantee that. But I can not afford it.

      Working 45-60 hours a week and Im LUCKY if i break the poverty line every year. Ive paid taxes my entire adult life and 3 years as a juvenile.

      Im glad you got a great job and can afford it. I cant.

  • wvman75

    I can't believe that Tomblin and the democrats in this state bought into this goatscrew and actually expanded Medicaid, which was the cause of a $265 million budget shortfall BEFORE expanding it. If people won't buy, especially young, healthy individuals, because of the high premiums and high deductibes, our state is going to lose big time.

    • wvman75

      Highmark should change their name to Highpremiums.

  • Joe

    Just keep in mind the next time you are in line at your neighborhood convenience store how greatly appreciative some of the people there buying lottery tickets and cigs, junkfood with snap cards and covered in tatoos are with having to pay more for insurance and losing your in-network doctors so they can have subsidized healthcare at your expense.

    • David

      Joe, If people are directly buying non-food items with SNAP, then it's dual fraud - committed by both the purchaser and the seller. If they're buying junk food, it's a poor choice. If they're covered in tattoos, then they didn't buy those with SNAP - and you're being quite judgmental. As I've said before, I'd rather people have subsidized health care than not have it. If you don't feel the same way, you're more than a little mean.

      • Martinsburg Resident

        I think Joe was trying to say... Welcome to Socialism West Virginia! I must be one mean person too, because I'm tired of paying for all the "takers". The only way to help poor people is to make them uncomfortable. I know David, that sounds really mean... but giving them everything only makes them dependent and worthless to a productive society. BTW I love people and believe "most" can survive on their own without BIG GOVERNMENTS intervention. Big Government intrusion is the reason our country is failing so quickly these days.

        • Jason

          Im 22. I have 0 tattoos. Ive never used food stamps. Ive worked since i was 15. I pay taxes. I put myself through a technical college. My girlfriend also works 45-60 hrs a week. We dont have 2-300$ each a month to pay for insurance. Ive never asked for a handout or charity. I dont want you to lose your provider. But I NEED help. I havent had a regular check up in 3 years and short of a fatal injury going to the hospital isnt an option for me. My mom is retired and been in bad health since my dad and grandma died in the same month so i help with her food and bills.

          Please tell me what me and my girlfriend did to not deserve health care. We both have degrees but we moved back from good jobs in PA(where we had insurance) to help our families. unless you want to mine coal which i lost my grandpa to then there is no way for young adults to make a living in randolph county.

          I need a year or 2 of insurance until i can move back to PA where a young adult actually has opportunities, Im not asking for an eternal free ride.

          Why should any American not have good health care as an option? We're only decades behind the rest of the first world, namely the UK and Canada

          • Martinsburg Resident

            I'd hardly call the UK's & Canada's health care good.... it is why they all come to America for GOOD medical care... there are many ways to make our system better & more affordable for people such as yourself but this train wreck isn't the answer. Hope you find affordable health care and the career you desire.

        • Joe

          Mart:

          That is exactly what I was saying.

          David, I have a different definition of compassion than you do, I guess. The kids under 18, we support however we need to support. Able-bodied, lazy, entitled adults....no.

          Three generations have tried and it has failed. Problem is, they don't care. Why should they?!

          I have no problem with tatoos. I have a problem with people who do not have the money to spend on tatoos that should be putting said money in the bank for their own expenses.

          I'm guessing you and I would have a different definition of personal responsibility, as well.

  • George

    I appreciate the infomration in this article. You have reported the facts regarding enrollment. I just hope everyone understands that the website is a small problem relative to the absolute inaffordability of the Affordable Care Act. Please keep up the good work.

    • Robert

      Exactly. People who can barely afford a bronze plan won't have the money to actually use it with the high deductibles and out of pocket expenses. But officially they will have "insurance".

    • CaptainQ

      +1

    • Jason

      I agree with it being a small glitch in a huge solution. It blows my mind how the website goes down and the DC radio was having a field day with it like the website is a sign the whole obamacare program wont work. That is the most idiotic logic ive ever heard

      If you visit wvmetronews and its crashed do you assume the newspaper industry has crumbled and there will never be another news article. Of course not

      As a working class poor young adult with no insurance i hope obamCare works out. Its the only chance the youth of America has at adequate care