More than two million people across the country have signed up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act and hospitals are bracing for a wave of newly insured patients.
Officials at Rex Hospital said they cannot say how many newly insured patients came through their doors Wednesday, much like insurers cannot say how many people have signed up.
The hospital says it has a team of people ready to help people navigate problems, and experts say there are a number of issues that could come up.
"I think there are a lot of unknowns with the ACA," Rex Chief Medical Officer Dr. Linda Butler said.
She said so far people think they have insurance when they do not, either because they did something wrong or because of an error between the government and insurers. Also, some people do not understand what they signed up for or what is covered under their plans.
"People maybe have given us the wrong card, or may not have given us all the information we need," Butler said.
Butler said Rex has staff in place ready to help.
"We do have people who help navigate, sign people up for the exchanges. I would think we would continue to do that because we have patients who don't always know what their options are," Butler said.
As a rule of thumb, every dollar spent on prevention is worth four or five dollars in treatment, according to Butler. She said with more insured people, more problems will be caught earlier, which will lead to fewer big expensive fixes needed later on.
"If you do your screenings, if you do your immunizations, if you get your well-checks, then you don't have to spend as much money taking care of the problem on the back end," Butler said.
A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield said they have been getting a lot of calls from new customers looking for their ID cards. Most of those people will soon receive their cards in the mail.