Bettendorf session shows need for Obamacare extension

Newlyweds Luke and Jenny Ladenburger are racing against the clock.

“Honestly, it’s a pain,” Luke said.

The Bettendorf couple needs to sign up for health insurance, but the so-called Obamacare website is flooded with folks just like them.

“It signed me out, and it won’t let me sign back in,” Jenny said.

And her cheapest rate so far triples what she’s currently paying for coverage.

“They’re not giving us insurance that works for our income,” she said.

That rush is one reason why the sign-up for Obamacare is now extended by a day, through December 24, for those that want coverage by January 1, 2014.

The Obama administration says it’s doing everything it can to connect individuals with coverage through the marketplace or private insurers.

“It’s been fairly hectic this morning,” said Jennifer Busch, a health navigator leading a group at the Bettendorf Public Library on Monday.

Genesis Health System hosted the sign-up session. It’s one of many ways to enroll in coverage from the Affordable Care Act. But peak usage on Monday left many clients to sit and wait.

“It’s improved,” Busch said. “But do I still have people get kicked off, yes. We even get kicked off when they’re applying over the phone.”

Some one million people have signed up for new insurance plans so far on Healthcare.gov. That’s far below expectations to enroll seven million people by March.

“We’re trying to get insurance that is affordable,” said Mike Reedy, Eldridge, Iowa.

“I need health insurance,” added Denise LIttle, Davenport. “I want to make sure I get it.”

Since applicants like Luke and Jenny didn’t finish today, there will be a special enrollment period for those who tried but couldn’t complete the process.

It’s still undetermined who gets extensions beyond December 24, or how they will work. This is all very frustrating for the Ladenburgers.

“The hard part is getting through and navigating the website to get what you need,” Luke said.

For Jenny, who is being treated for type one diabetes, it’s all too important.

“Life or death,” she concluded.