Deadline for signing up for health care arrives

Federal health officials say Healthcare.gov had a record 1.2 million visitors Saturday and 270,000 callers as Monday’s deadline loomed to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The website had glitches all week as consumers rushed to sign up before the deadline, but the problems were minor compared to the botched rollout in October, officials said.

Ronnell Nolan, the president of Health Agents for America said Friday the Affordable Care Act enrollments in Louisiana had picked up significantly since March 1.

But Nolan said she had no available totals or estimates for the new sign-ups.

Nolan said her group is a nonprofit organization that assists people seeking to enroll for health coverage under the ACA.

“Everybody’s been waiting until the very last moment,” Nolan said. She said 300 of her member agents would be publicly recruiting potential enrollees throughout Louisiana over the weekend and on Monday.

“We are everywhere and anywhere we can be,” Nolan added.

February figures for Affordable Care Act enrollments in Louisiana, the latest available on Friday showed only a 5.7 percent decrease in the federal government’s July 29 estimate of 794,805 residents uninsured and eligible for health coverage.

That meant nearly 18.9 percent of the state’s population remained uninsured, according to figures the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in July and February.

By the end of February, 45,561 of the state’s uninsured had survived the computer glitches of October and purchased health coverage through the Federally-facilitated Marketplace, or FFM, HHS officials reported. That shaved 1.1 percentage points from Louisiana’s July uninsured rate of 20 percent.

Of the 45,561 residents who enrolled for federally mandated health insurance before March, 30 percent were ages 55-64. That was the most numerous group.

Another 29 percent of enrollees were ages 18-34.

Nolan expressed dissatisfaction with the younger age group.

“That’s who we really need,” Nolan said. “The issue is with the young invincibles. Some of them don’t believe they need it (health coverage).”

Of all residents enrolled through Feb. 28, 55 percent were females.

While March enrollment figures were unavailable for Louisiana, nationwide enrollment increased about 1.8 million between Feb. 28 and Thursday.

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said the new nationwide total of ACA enrollees exceeded 6 million on Thursday.

On Friday, a New Orleans resident — 29-year-old single mom Angele Bravo — was among several people around the nation who had left statements about their enrollment that appeared on the HHS website.

Bravo, a clerk at a mammography clinic, said she enrolled for health care coverage after lacking insurance for three years. She added that her 7-year-old daughter is covered through the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Bravo said she enrolled in a “Silver health plan and a dental plan for a total of less than $18 a month.”

Her statement was dated March 12.