AP: fe2a32df-1318-48a0-8fbe-60a3e78dd757
Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle. The new site, which allows consumers to compare and purchase health insurance plans and to see if they are eligible for government subsidies, is Washington state's online answer to the Affordable Care Act, which is available to the public beginning Tuesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Computer issues plague day-one of health care sign-ups

On the first day Obamacare rolls out across the country, computer issues are plaguing Washington state's health care sign-up website.

As the new website went live Tuesday morning at 7:30, customers were experiencing a sluggish response and other trouble loading their applications.

"Some people were able to go through the application process with no issues. Other people were experiencing some slow downs, some pages weren't loading. In some cases, people weren't able to get on the website," explained Michael Marchand, Director of communications with the Health Benefit Exchange.

The state shut down the website shortly after it went live to make repairs.

"As opposed to trying to fix the tire as it's getting flat while you're still trying to drive the car, it's much easier to pull over to the side of the road and get the situation resolved," said Marchand.

The state says the website went back online around 1:30 p.m, but "users may still experience intermittent issues completing online applications," said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

A phone number, 855-923-4633, is available for sign-ups and is not affected by the website problems. Consumers can also visit various locations across the state to enroll in person.

It's estimated that one million Washington residents could get health coverage through an expansion of Medicare or sign up for health insurance through the state's new Marketplace, a key feature of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health reform measure.

"Here in King County, we have about 180,000 adults who will be newly eligible for free or affordable health insurance; one in every six adults in King County," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

People who want to buy health insurance through the state exchange have six months to enroll.

The state estimates that about one in seven Washington residents do not have health insurance. The state hopes to enroll 130,000 people for health insurance in 2014 and another 280,000 in 2015.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who don't have insurance in 2014 will pay a fine when they file their federal income taxes in early 2015. The fines for people who ignore the new law are scheduled to increase over time.


Tim Haeck, KIRO Radio Reporter
Tim Haeck is a news reporter with KIRO Radio. While Tim is one of our go-to, no-nonsense reporters, he also has a sensationally dry sense of humor and it will surprise some to learn he is a weekend warrior.
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