ANCHORAGE — Heavy Web traffic and software glitches prevented some Alaskans from obtaining health insurance from the online federal marketplace Monday, the last day to sign up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Enroll Alaska, a broker created to help enroll individuals in private health insurance, had signed up more than 2,300 Alaskans as of Monday, said Tyann Boling, the chief operating officer. That’s well short of the goal of signing up 8,000 Alaskans by the midnight deadline. People who don’t enroll in time may face a penalty from the Internal Revenue Service.
“It has been an incredible struggle to get the information and education out to individuals across the state,” Boling said.
Alaska decided not to create its own marketplace and instead allowed the federal government to run it. Boling said that was the correct choice, given the small population of Alaska, but the federal government didn’t help communicate the message of the Affordable Care Act and its impact.
“There was no campaign from the federal government,” Boling said. “You didn’t see any commercials from Obama saying, ‘Go out and get enrolled.’ There was no money spent in our state from the federal government on education,” she said.
That left Enroll Alaska and two other organizations, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and United Way, to educate Alaskans.
Boling expects the number of enrollees to increase, since those who encountered technical problems will have two additional weeks to enroll.
The broker isn’t the only way for Alaskans to sign up for insurance under the law.