New Technical Woes Hobble Health Sign-Ups at Zero Hour

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Problems Likely Mean More Americans Will Enroll After Deadline.

New problems in the federal health-insurance website stymied some of the hundreds of thousands of Americans trying to sign up at the last minute, prompting health plans and officials to brace for the complex task of enrolling people after Monday’s official deadline.

The site for 36 states that have about 33 million uninsured people went down shortly after midnight Sunday and remained unusable until about 7:45 a.m. EDT Monday, a person familiar with the matter said. It was hit by a second problem around noon EDT that prevented new users from creating accounts, while some people who already had accounts were unable to log in, this person said.

A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the exchange, said the computer team monitoring the site identified an issue with users creating accounts that was behind the second problem, but declined to be more specific.

Christina Marrero, an enrollment worker at the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami, arrived at 7:30 a.m. to find down. By 8:30 a.m., staffers found that most applicants could create usernames and passwords, but could get no further. Four hours later, 60 clients had created accounts, but fewer than 10 had managed to fill out insurance applications, while 90 more people were on the center’s waiting list.

Federal officials announced last week that people who said they started trying to sign up by Monday for policies under the Affordable Care Act could continue after that deadline. Officials have said those people likely will be asked to offer some kind of documentation showing they attempted to apply before that date to avoid paying a penalty for lacking coverage in 2014, though they haven’t specified exactly what qualifies as proof.

A senior administration official said that many of those stuck in the process had begun applications or left contact information on the website or at a call center. Federal officials have said that processing these people could take days or a week, while those with complex cases would have a much longer window in which they may obtain coverage. But they haven’t offered an end date for the late enrollees.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, about 207,000 applications had been started on the final day of enrollment, a figure that trailed Sunday’s sign-ups by that hour of the day as more users encountered glitches, according to detailed performance data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

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