Lubbock insurers struggle as health care deadline approaches - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock insurers struggle as health care deadline approaches

Lubbock Insurance agent Zach Stephens Lubbock Insurance agent Zach Stephens
Lubbock resident Stuart Spendlove Lubbock resident Stuart Spendlove

The deadline to sign up for healthcare coverage in 2014 is less than two weeks away.

Anyone planning to be covered has to sign up before March 31 or face a fine of $95 or one percent of their gross total income, whichever amounts to more money. There are exemptions from being fined for people living below the poverty line.

"All week last week we were crazy busy talking to individuals, sending out quotes, helping them get subsidy and then that's continued on this week," said Lubbock Insurance agent Zach Stephens. "There are still a lot of people that do not have insurance, still have questions, still don't know there is a deadline and still don't know there is a penalty."

Stephens says the marketplace hasn't helped things move quickly.

"You'll go into help somebody sign up for subsidy and the marketplace will be running slowly so you call and it may not be working so they tell you to call back later and you call back five minutes later and it's working again," he said. "A lot of it has been putting out fires, going back after the fact, people not getting ID cards, people having questions where this doctor is in this plan's network and yet that doctor is not accepting new patients."

One of those people experiencing problems is Lubbock resident Stuart Spendlove.

"The first time I tried to sign up it took me 72 hours almost straight," Spendlove said. "I mean literally one night I stayed up on the phone and fell asleep with the phone against my ear listening to this terrible waiting music that they have."

Stuart initially signed up his family, which included five children. On February 24 that expanded to six but when he went back in to add his new son there was a problem.

"The application doesn't just let you add another person to your health coverage. You have to do the application completely over again," he said. "So what took me 72 hours the first time, I ran into the same problem again when I was trying to add my son."

Spendlove's phone calls brought no answers. He was continually transferred from person to person, up the ladder to the supervisor of the web site and then the IT department and then back to the supervisor. In five days his son will be one month old and he is still not a part of the health care plan with medical bills that need to be paid.

"The days we spent with our son, the pediatrician visits, the procedures, the immunizations - those things that were done those are certainly not covered. I was joking around with people about it in December and now I'm not joking around. It's ridiculous, it's asinine. It's more than a nuisance it's completely unorganized."

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