PHOTO: Laura Palmisano
Luis Elias, a patient navigator at St. Elizabeth's Health Center.

Navigators - individuals in charge of helping people sign up for health insurance on the new exchange - are finding ways to work around the problems that have plagued since it launched.

Luis Elias, a patient navigator for St. Elizabeth’s Health Center , said that, since the launch of the website earlier this month, he has not been able to enroll patients through the online portal.

However, he said there are other options for him to help people figure out if they are eligible for insurance plans offered on the federal exchange.

“We are actually going in, and we are educating the consumer and helping them fill out a paper application so that application actually get’s mailed in by them...along with their information," Elias said.

There are about 133,000 uninsured county residents eligible for insurance plans offered on the exchange or the state’s insurance plan, AHCCCS, according to the Pima County Health Department.

Since last week, he has helped eight people fill out paper applications. It will take about 30 days for the patients to receive a letter in the mail notifying them of their eligibility to purchase a plan, Elias explained.