Affordable Care Act/Obamacare glitches as exchanges open; National help is coming

CLEVELAND - This is a day many people who don't have insurance have been waiting for: day one for buying health insurance through the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. 

We have been checking the exchange systems all day, and there have been problems with shutdowns and delays.

Some national organizations are teaming up locally to try and get you some help here in Cleveland.

"What do you know about Obamacare?" we asked Wally Skora outside of his construction site in downtown Cleveland.

"Not a whole lot, " he answered. We have found Skora is like many Ohioans who don't have insurance and are facing Obamacare.

"I don't know anybody who knows a whole lot about it. The marketplace is new to me," Skora said.

With the marketplace or exchange now newly open, people like Anne Filipic want to help Skora and many others. She's the president of Enroll America, which is a health care enrollment coalition designed to spread the word of new health insurance options. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services reported 1.4 million people in Ohio need insurance.

"A large portion of them live in the Cleveland area and we actually have staff on the ground with our Get Covered America campaign focused on Cleveland specifically," Filipic told us. "And the reason (we're in Cleveland) is really there are so many people that stand to benefit in the area and so many people who still don't know about these options."

Filipic went on to tell us that Enroll America members will be working with the Ohio Food Bank, numerous health care clinics and also religious leaders. When we told her the various local navigators and organizations set to help people through the insurance buying process were not ready opening day and/or had limited information, she downplayed the significance.

"I think it's important to remember this is just the beginning that these local non-profits are getting their legs underneath them as well and we're working together to identify how we can make this process as smooth as possible for consumers in the Cleveland area," Filipic said.

She also told us when the glitches get hammered out, the insurance will be a positive change for people who need essential benefits, trips to the emergency room, prescription drugs and more. In the meantime, she just wants to get the details out.

"To really build a presence and meet people where they are, where they naturally go for information," Filipic said. "So, we can make this process go as easily as possible for them."

Easy sounds good to Skora, after he's been going without insurance for a while now.

"I do think everybody should have some kind of coverage in this country…one way or the other," Skora said.

You still have time to sign up for health insurance. You can sign up by Dec. 15 to avoid the penalty, but overall you have until March 31.

We have plenty of resources for you including important phone numbers, web links, hints on preparing to buy insurance, and so much more.

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