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Federal Health Care Website Still Down, With Consequences For Ohio’s Uninsured

As the fiasco continues in Washington over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, technical problems still plague healthcare.gov, the website that was meant to be the law’s easy one-stop shop for subsidized health care plans. Enrollment numbers released last week were disturbingly low, with just 27,000 enrollments through the federal site in the first month after its Oct. 1 launch.

Meanwhile, an unknown number of people across the country are still trying to get enrolled and facing an onslaught of technical troubles; in just the first few days millions visited the website, but the vast majority have struggled just to create an account, let alone shop for health insurance plans and learn about subsidies.

In Ohio alone, there 1.5 million people without health insurance who make up the Affordable Care Act's target shoppers, but reports of successful enrollments are scarce. Enrollment numbers are significantly higher in states that chose to set up their own exchanges; most of those websites are up and running, and Kentucky’s state-run program reports it has enrolled over 40,000 new people since Oct. 1, most of them new Medicaid recipients.

Of course, the process of enrolling in Ohio Medicaid, which is expanding to include all adults earning below the poverty level, is a separate process run by the state. Over 250,000 Ohio residents are expected to fall into the Medicaid expansion group.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has promised a fix for the troubled website by the end of November. Open enrollment for health insurance lasts through March 31, 2014, and most Americans will be subject to a tax penalty if they don’t enroll for insurance by that date.