Until computer glitches are fixed, applying to enroll for medical insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act might require another means of communication.
Neighborhood Health Clinics will encourage the use of telephones when helping people navigate application forms.
Because of snags with the HealthCare.gov website since enrollment began Oct. 1, accessing a call center "is the best option for today," said Angie Zaegel, vice president and chief operating officer of Neighborhood Health Clinics.
"We have not been able to get the website to function well for us," Zaegel said Monday in a phone interview. "One of my certified application counselors spent eight hours completing the process for herself."
The agency is among federally approved health centers providing enrollment application assistance. Zaegel said Neighborhood Health Clinics has appointments scheduled with 12 people this week.
The agency considered offering paper applications, she said, but was informed that they could take the Department of Health and Human Services much longer to process than forms filled out over the phone or the Internet.
Yet President Barack Obama said Monday at the White House that enrollment by both telephone and paper application is available, Bloomberg News reported. The toll-free phone number for applying is 800-318-2596.
"Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed," Obama said.
One problem with the online application is that it asks for a person's email address for follow-up correspondence, Zaegel said. Because many low-income people whom Neighborhood Health Clinics will try to help do not have computers, they don't have email addresses, either, she said.
The agency has four computers available to aid applicants when HealthCare.gov is up and running.
Neighborhood Health Clinics and the nonprofit Volunteer Center@RSVP, another local application assistance agency, have yet to enroll anybody in the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to provide coverage through private insurers beginning Jan. 1.
Zaegel and Jean Joley, executive director of the Volunteer Center, said their agencies have been educating people about insurance and the Affordable Care Act.
The agencies have been teaching prospective applicants about deductibles, co-pays and premiums and providing them with paper copies of the application so they know what information is required, Joley said in an email.
Republican members of Indiana's congressional delegation want to know how many Hoosiers have sought insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, has sent a letter, signed by the six other GOP representatives from the state and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for the number of applicants and enrollees in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts.
"We have received numerous reports from Hoosiers who have been unable to enroll due to website malfunctions as well as complaints from Hoosiers who can no longer afford the new premium amounts," Walorski wrote.
"As we work to assist these constituents, it is important that we are able to provide them accurate data regarding the health insurance exchange."
Indiana is among 35 states that did not establish their own medical insurance exchanges and where residents must apply for coverage through the federal exchange.
All of Indiana's Republicans in Congress have supported eliminating or delaying the Affordable Care Act.
The White House says nearly 500,000 people nationwide have applied for insurance and 19 million have visited HealthCare.gov, The Associated Press reported Monday.