Glitches abound as MI Health Marketplace opens

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The main sticking point leading up to the federal government shutdown is the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

Despite efforts to delay its implementation, the program moved forward Tuesday with opening of the online Marketplace. But the opening was anything but smooth.

WZZM 13 sat down with man as he attempted to sign up with some frustrating results.

Visitors were asked to wait because thousands of people were trying to access it, people who have waited years for this day.

For Dallas McCulloch, October 1st was supposed to be the first day towards a better life.

"I've waited, 90 percent of the last 27 years I haven't had health insurance," said McCulloch.

McCulloch's in school to become a yoga teacher, and works as a bartender. He hasn't seen a doctor in a couple of years.

But he has done everything possible to keep himself healthy.

"I'm a triathlete, I'm a vegan, he said."I grew up around a lot of people having diabetes, being obese, having cancer, I even used to be stage 2 hypertensive."

But even so, he had a medical scare this year, and is now thousands of dollars in debt. "Nobody is untouchable," he said.

Tuesday, McCulloch sat determined, excited, to get insurance through Michigan's new health insurance market.

Health Insurance Marketplace

But he was greeted with this: "Health Insurance Marketplace: Please Wait.""I imagine we'll be seeing that for quite awhile," he said. The message popped up all day and into the eveningwhen we checked back in the WZZM 13 Information Center.

It let him on after about 10 minutes. After typing in general information, he entered his zipcode, which brought up 41 places to get personal help applying for coverage.

The problem: none of the locations were local. "It's bizarre that all these places in West Michigan are not Grand Rapids, even though we live in the city," he said.

A Grand Rapids search didn't help. "That presents a whole other set of problems," he said. The site crashed at his next attempt.

"It's expected, it's like going to opening day of the Tigers game, you're not going to be able to get a good seat," he said. After years of waiting, he says he can hold on a few more days. "In the meantime, I'll keep eating kale," he said.

Governor Synder expressed concerns about the problems Tuesday. The federal government is running the marketplace.

The Republican-led Legislature blocked a plan by the governor to have it operated at the state level.

Sign up continues through March 31st.


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