December 23 is the last day to sign up for insurance on healthcare.gov to get covered by January. If the numbers are any indication, HealthCare.gov is getting up to speed.
For all three South Dakota insurance providers on the exchange, more than 850 in the state have signed up. That's a big jump from the first few weeks after it went online.
Kathie Dubbelde is the sole caretaker of her husband with Parkinson's disease and needed insurance for herself. She's been trying to get it through HealthCare.gov for the last two and a half months.
"I literally started from day one to get signed up to get my application filled in and each time I would get a screen freeze, or blocked from going any further," Dubbelde said.
And never far enough until now, after starting her application over.
"I'm paying a little less than I was before. I'm getting much better coverage. Before it was 50/50 and now I'm 20 percent; that's 80/20," Dubbelde said.
Dubbelde's deductible is the same, but her maximum out-of-pocket expense is much less.
"We could actually see the website improving, almost on a daily basis," Deb Muller of Avera Health Plans said.
Dubbelde went with an Avera Health Plan and the insurance company says it was initially getting 20 to 30 files a day. It's now up to 70 or 80 files from the federal government.
Avera Health Plans says nearly 100 people signed up for one of their health plans through HealthCare.gov over the weekend alone. That December 23 deadline is looming and people also need to know they need to have their first premium check paid by the 31st for guaranteed coverage on January 1.
Avera Health Plans says the average age of its applicants is 36 and most chose a silver plan. But a platinum plan with a low deductible is the second most popular choice. Muller says many people are finding it's more affordable than they expect.
"Check it out. Educate yourself; find out what it really does cost going forward," Muller said.
Dubbelde, who called the White House out of frustration, says she's happy to finally have the coverage she needs, even if she never did hear back from President Obama.
"No," Dubbelde laughs, "I did not. I'm just happy it did work out."
There is a new browsing function on the HealthCare.gov website that now allows you to check out plans and the costs before you go through the application process.