Access Health CT Gets First Obamacare Enrollment Amid Website Woes

The website has been spotty, but Access Health CT, the state’s new health insurance marketplace created by the federal health reform law, enrolled its first member shortly before 9:30 Tuesday morning.

CEO Kevin Counihan was an in-studio guest on WNPR’s Where We Live when the Access Health site was slated to launch. After hearing reports that people had been unable to access it, Counihan got a text message and scribbled “We’re live” on a piece of paper.

In addition to the first enrollee, he said shortly before 9:30, 764 people had active applications.

“For a site that’s been up for 25 minutes, it’s not bad,” he said.

Access Health is the state’s health insurance exchange, a key piece of the law commonly known as Obamacare. It is intended to offer customers a chance to comparison-shop for health plans offered by private insurers, and many of the shoppers are expected to qualify for federal subsidies that could make their premiums significantly cheaper.

Access Health is meant for people who buy insurance on their own, the uninsured, and small businesses. Officials expect it will enroll 80,000 to 100,000 people in its first year. The enrollment period that began Tuesday runs through March 31. The coverage it sells won’t take effect until January 1.

Officials have warned that glitches are likely with the system. And midway through the morning, the website wasn’t fully accessible, giving some visitors a “logout confirmation” message rather than the intended system for exploring options and signing up.

By noon, the website appeared to be more functional.

Enrollment isn’t expected to be high Tuesday, since the earliest the plans take effect is January. But many people are expected to begin comparing their options and trying to find out which doctors and hospitals take the plans offered through the exchange.

As of 9 a.m., Counihan said the website had received 110,000 hits Tuesday, including 76,000 from in Connecticut.

Connecticut’s exchange website woes weren’t unique. According to The Advisory Board Company, a consulting firm that has a running list of how well exchange are working nationally, 15 states had “glitchy” sites Tuesday morning, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont and Colorado.

New York’s exchange, called the NY State of Health, posted a message on its website Tuesday saying that “overwhelming interest,” including 2 million visits in the first two hours, had led to log-in issues.

On Wednesday morning, a release from the exchange said in addition to substantial web site traffic and large call volumes, a total of 167 applications for coverage had been processed.

“Today was not without its bumps, but as far as launches go for a project of this size, we were pleased,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. 

 The Access Health CT web site (www.accesshealthct.com) received 28,280 unique visitors, a volume more than double the typical web traffic seen in an average week. Despite some sporadic issues with web site activity, on average individuals were being shown pages they requested in roughly 0.5 seconds.

The call center (1-855-805-4325) received 1,930 calls during the day, with the average call time trending at approximately 9 minutes.

 (This story originally appeared at CTMirror.org, the website of The Connecticut Mirror, an independent, non-profit news organization covering government, politics, and public policy in the state. It was updated by The Newtown Bee October 2.)

More stories like this: Obamacare, Access Health CT
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