EL PASO, Texas - Since healthcare.gov went live Oct. 1, not-for-profit Project Amistad knows of just two people in its 23-county assistance map who were able to access rate quotes. One of them got in this afternoon: an ABC-7 manager.
Here are some Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas HMO price tags for a 50-year-old, non-smoking male -- sans dental:
The bronze plan starts at about $200 a month with a $6,000 deductible -- no co-pays after that. Silver plans are $290 a month, $6,000 deductible and $30 co-pay. And gold is $475 a month with a $1,000 deductible and $25 co-pay.
But not every shopper has the magic touch. More than 300 people have called Project Amistad since the exchange opened.
"We have had an overwhelming number of people calling us, but we're trying to call them back every day," said spokeswoman Andrea Ramirez. "So the ones that called Oct. 1, we're trying to call them today and say, 'I know you called Oct. 1, we haven't forgotten about you, we still haven't been successful with the website. But as soon as we do, you'll be the first in line.'"
Many of the group's constituents don't have a computer or email address, Ramirez said.
Roberto Ramirez, however, is quite tech savvy and still had trouble logging on. He's uninsured and called Project Amistad after he started having anxiety attacks recently.
"You want to run out of your own skin," he said.
A doctor visit and medication this week cost him $200. So he tried to log on with his smartphone to create an account on healthcare.gov. He gave his income and health info but wasn't able to access rate quotes.
"It's been pretty confusing," he said.
So he called the federal government and asked to receive his options via the U.S. Postal Service.
"Figuring out if I do go to a doctor, how am I going to pay for it," he asked. "If I go to the emergency room, how am I going to pay for that?"
Paper applicants should expect to wait 10 weeks to get quotes in the mail, Ramirez said. She expects the site to be glitch-free by the end of October. Penalties for the uninsured kick in Jan. 1, and the enrollment period ends March 31.
"It's not a race," she said.