For the staff of Jessie Trice, a Federally Qualified Health Center with nine facilities in Miami, technical problems with Healthcare.gov were a major speed-bump in enrolling people in healthcare plans during the first month of the online exchange, says spokesman Herman Edwards.
Jessie Trice was one of 12 South Florida health centers that received grants from the Centers for Medicare and Medicatd to hire Outreach and Education workers to help people enroll in health plans on the exchange. But trying to access the Healthcare.gov website from their office desktops was almost impossible.
"We've managed to enroll a few people online, but we have our paper applications as a backup, and a long list of people to call back when the website is fixed," Edwards said.
Then the staff learned in a CMS conference call that other Florida agencies were having success. Why?
"They were using Firefox as their Internet browser,while Jessie Trice uses Internet Explorer," said Edwards.
Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and the myriad other browsers that let us access the Web all do things a little differently, so new websites often run into issues until they've been tested and debugged on every single browser a person might use.
Can you really get better results on Firefox? Our results are about equal on it and Google Chrome -- and much better than a weeks ago. If you use Internet Explorer, you might want to download Firefox and check out the difference -- and let us know if you do.
Edwards says other glitches also slowed his health center's enrollment progress.
For example, the first paper application forms that Jessie Trice downloaded from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) contained the wrong mailing address. "We only learned about it when the applications were returned," Edwards said. The forms were quickly corrected.
Another challenge is the sheer magnitude of education and enrollment needs in the communities JessieTrice serves.
Although it was one of a dozen South Florida health centers receiving grants from CMS to staff up for this effort, "It would be impossible to handle all of it and take care of our core practice with what we were given," Edwards said.