A federal call center set up to enroll people had more than 190,000 calls on day one, and more than 104,000 people requested a Web chat on the website, according to the DHHS. The federal agency had expected the volume Wednesday to be much like Tuesday. The wait times on the federal website will improve as time goes by, officials said.
The state DHHR sent around 118,000 letters to those receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) and parents of children who are covered by Medicaid. The letters ask if the recipient wants to sign up for Medicaid. As of Wednesday morning, 45,841 West Virginians had been enrolled in Medicaid after they responded to letters.
The alternative enrollment process "has really been just a blessing," said Jeremiah Samples, assistant to state DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling. "And again, a credit to the staff at [the] DHHR for all the hard work they did. It eases the burden on the consumer significantly and also eases the burden on the state system."
Wvinroads.org was not having the same problems as the federal website, Samples said. The state website allows people to sign up for Medicaid. From the website, those who are not eligible for Medicaid are referred on to Healthcare.gov to purchase a health insurance plan there, Samples said. Enrollments at county DHHR offices also are running smoothly, Samples said.
Reports on the number of people who signed up locally and federally should be available early next week, Samples said.
He said it was unclear if the federal government shutdown is having any effect on the exchanges. Many federal agencies had significantly fewer staff members working, he said.
Samples added that people enrolling in Medicaid and in health insurance should be on their guard about identity theft and privacy issues. People helping with the enrollment process should not ask for personal information like medical history, credit card or banking account information.
If you suspect identity theft or want to report an incident, call the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, at 304-558-1858; the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, at 304-558-5241; or the Health Insurance Marketplace call center, at 1-800-318-2596.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also has set up a tip line for suspected identity theft, at 1-800-368-8808.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.