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Alaska healthcare enrollment numbers fall short of expectations

By Alexis Fernandez 7:35 AM December 4, 2013

So far, 358 Alaskans have signed up

ANCHORAGE - With the HealthCare.gov website running more smoothly, the Obama Administration is revamping its efforts to persuade Americans to give it a second chance.

Anchorage resident Janice Ray has been trying to sign up for health insurance for two months. After weeks of no luck at home, she decided to finally get help.

“The system would tell me I was enrolled  – sending me an email, no email, told me to shut down the computer,” Ray said.

She went to Enroll Alaska for help and in about an hour she was signed up.

Ray said because she and her husband work for themselves, they’ve had to pay a high price for health insurance.

“Both of us are fairly healthy, but we spent almost $40,000 in premiums and doctors,” she said.

Now, they will only pay $400 a month for both of them because they qualify for tax credits.

“We can breath easy, go back to worrying about important things like keeping the heat on in the house, rather then whether or not we can go to the doctor,” she said.

She’s one of nearly 180,000 Alaskans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act if they sign up.

After a rocky start, the government now wants people to log back on and try again. U.S. Health and Human Services Region 10 Director Susan Johnson is in Anchorage to help spread the word about the improved website.

“The main message is to get the message out again and again,” she said.

Johnson said the goal is to get 100,000 Alaskans to sign up. So far, only 358 have, according to Premera and Moda Health.

“It’s always a concern that people have forgotten what they maybe knew in August and have put it away,” she said.

She hopes with a more efficient website, more Alaskans will decide to enroll.

The deadline to sign up for coverage beginning in January is Dec. 23.

If not, you have until March 31. After that, if you’re uninsured you’ll have to pay a tax penalty of $95, or one percent of your income — whichever is greater on your tax return.

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