Friday, October 4, 2013

HealthCare.Gov: Website Glitches & Alternatives

The open enrollment period for individuals, families and small businesses to select health insurance plans was highly anticipated.  As expected with any new website or websites with high-traffic volume, there were technical difficulties for users trying to access the marketplaces.  These problems are similar to issues encountered eight years ago with the launch of Medicare Part D.  The department of Health and Human Services reported that HealthCare.Gov had over 2.8 million visitors on the first day the exchange opened.  The live chat assistance option received over 60,000 requests as users navigated the health plans and website.  People interested in healthcare coverage also had the option of calling the consumer hotline; over 81,000 calls were placed the first day. 

Reported glitches included not being able to access the registration portion of the website and long wait times for access to agents, brokers and the registration pages. The Department of Health and Human Services said that it was able to expand system capacity this week and will continue to do so in the future to accommodate the high volume of traffic on the website.

As of October 4, the website ( displays a message that explains, “We have a lot of visitors on the site right now” if the site is experiencing heavy traffic that exceeds system capacity. It then directs you to stay on the page to save your place in line. The site will direct each user to the login page in order that they attempted to access the page. The page also offers the phone number for users wishing to speak with a trained representative and apply over the phone.

Non-technical issues with the marketplaces also exist. In some states small businesses weren’t able to use the SHOP Marketplace on opening day. Additionally, the Spanish-language version of the healthcare marketplaces was unable to accept applications for healthcare coverage. There are also expected delays in Medicaid enrollment with federal insurance exchanges and a few states delayed online enrollment for individual and small-business marketplaces.

Below you will find phone numbers to call as an alternative to using the website for enrollment.  Even under high-volume conditions the website’s pages that outline the insurance plans and answer frequently asked questions generally operate smoothly and are a useful resource for determining plans you may be interested in and your eligibility.

Health Insurance Marketplace Information:

 SHOP Marketplace Information:

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