Health/Science
3:50 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Online Health Marketplace Debuts, But Some Dallas Residents Sign Up On Paper

The online Health Insurance Marketplace finally opened Tuesday, but website traffic was so intense that some customers in Dallas had to apply using old-fashioned paper and pen.

Healthcare.gov had so much web traffic Tuesday morning that Parkland Memorial Hospital workers who had planned to assist with online applications were walking customers through the steps page by page.

The KERA radio story.

Like the others who came to sign up for health coverage, Luis Veloz will have to mail his application for health care before he can see the details. But he doesn’t mind.

“I’m not waiting another day,” Veloz said. “I’m not willing to say maybe I’ll get on tomorrow or next week. I want to do it today knowing I’ve done something to better myself and better my health know if anything does happen I’ll be insured.”

Veloz is a student at Mountain View College in Dallas. His school doesn’t offer health care. While he’s not sick, he’s seen what can happen when people don’t have coverage.

“Unfortunately, my father didn’t have health insurance,” Veloz said. “He suffered several heart attacks. My brother suffered an anxiety attack. We’re about a quarter of million dollars in debt with the hospital because we don’t have health insurance.”

Searching For Stability

Across the room, Cynthia Loera clutched the manila folder with her application.

“I’m going to mail it in,” she says.

Loera is 50 years old, and has a list of health concerns.

She’s a diabetic. She has high blood pressure.

“I have to have medication constantly,” Loera said. “My eyes is going weaker, and if you’re a diabetic you just don’t know how your health is.”

The First Step

Loera, who’s on a fixed income, hopes that there will be a plan for her and her husband among the 47 available in North Texas. The average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan in North Texas is $287, while a bronze plan is $211. Still, that doesn’t include out-of-pocket costs.

Both Loera and Veloz will have to wait a few weeks for their applications to be approved since they mailed them. Then they can see what federal subsidies are available and see prices.

Today was just step one.

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