Open enrollment on the federal HealthCare.gov site kicked off relatively smoothly in many parts of the nation Saturday, although there were reports in some areas that consumers and brokers had problems logging into accounts.
Healthcare.gov launched amid much anticipation after last year’s botched rollout. Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 23,000 people had submitted applications in the first eight hours.
Just as the federal log in issues appeared resolved Saturday afternoon, issues on state-run sites cropped up.
Across the U.S. state-run exchanges were having mixed success enrolling people. Washington state had to take its exchange offline to resolve a problem in which 2015 tax credit amounts were being incorrectly calculated for customers. In Colorado, plans that include cost-sharing subsidies weren’t showing up for broker Louise Norris, who also got frequent error messages as she navigated the site.
At least she was able to enroll customers. Brokers at the Health Insurance Store of Louisiana in Baton Rouge weren’t able to do that until early afternoon. Owner Will Chapman says none of the 10 agents or their clients could log into accounts until about 1 p.m. CT Saturday.
“We’d go in with an e-mail account, set up an account, verify it and create a password, but when go back to actually log in with that information, it says your password is invalid,” says Chapman.
After a lengthy wait on hold for the call center around midday, Chapman says, they were told the problem was systemwide.
“The vast majority of users are having a smooth experience during the first day of Open Enrollment on HealthCare.gov as they fill out applications, browse and enroll in plans,” HHS spokesman Aaron Albright said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect to experience the normal issues that any other complicated technology project does upon launch and have seen a small number so far.”
Albright said the department “will continue to work every day to make the consumer experience simpler and easier.”
Three USA TODAY staff members created accounts in Virginia on Saturday morning. One of the three was blocked from logging in, just as the agents in Louisiana experienced, After a five-minute wait on hold, a call center employee unlocked the account but warned it couldn’t be logged into for another two hours.
After 2½ hours, attempts to log into the account again failed, so the password was reset again — to no avail.
After a USA TODAY reporter’s third call to the call center after password changes failed to make log in possible, the woman answering the phone said she needed to send the case to “an advanced resolution specialist” who would call back “within five to seven business days.”
• In Des Moines, it took Vicki Wood, 44, about two hours to buy insurance through the federal insurance exchange Saturday at a community center in Des Moines. Wood encountered one glitch with HealthCare.gov. When she tried to create an account, the website logged her out, but after about 10 minutes on the phone with a call center operator, her information was recovered and she logged back in. “That was kind of shocking,” Wood said. “I figured I’d be there all day.” Wood said she meant to buy insurance through the exchange last year but found HealthCare.gov daunting.”When I did get to the website, there was just so much there,” she said. “I knew I needed to get signed up, but I was overwhelmed.”
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SOURCE: USA Today – Jayne O’Donnell and Laura Ungar