KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Day 2: Consumers Shopping For Insurance On Exchanges Continue To Confront Delays, Challenges

Interest and demand appeared to overload websites and clog phone lines. Federal officials, who were taking steps to build additional capacity into the system, said traffic to the website exceeded expectations.

The New York Times: As Demand Stays High, Officials Try To Address Problems In Exchanges
Federal and state officials moved Wednesday to strengthen the computer underpinnings of the new online health exchanges, which proved inadequate to handle a flood of consumer inquiries that began as soon as the system opened on Tuesday and continued into the next day (Perez-Pena, Goodnough and Pear, 10/2).

The Associated Press/White House: Computer Glitches In Health Insurance Marketplace Signal Strong Demand For Coverage
Overloaded websites and jammed phone lines frustrated consumers for a second day as they tried to sign up for health insurance under the nation’s historic health care overhaul. That was putting pressure on the federal government and the states that are running their own insurance exchanges to fix the problems amid strong demand for the private insurance plans (10/3).

Kaiser Health News: On Day 2, Federal Insurance Marketplace Offers Mixed Bag Of Problems, But Also Successes
The federal online marketplace selling newly available health insurance in 36 states continued to frustrate consumers Wednesday with delays and software failures, although some reported success in signing up (Hancock, Evans, Galewitz, Gold and Rao, 10/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurance Website Still Sees Delays
Efforts to clear logjams in the federal health law's new online insurance marketplaces met with only modest success Wednesday, with strong traffic exacerbating waits and relatively few consumers able to enroll in policies during the system's second day. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, for one, said it was able to enroll only a single person in a subsidized health plan under the law by Wednesday afternoon (Martin, Weaver and Campo-Flores, 10/2).

Politico: Obamacare Day 2: More Turmoil, Some Progress
Obamacare’s second day didn’t look much different from its tumultuous first day. The problems that plagued the system on its launch Tuesday remained prevalent one day later, as error messages and indefinite waits stymied online visitors to the federal exchange. There was scant evidence that many people were able to even browse the online insurance offerings, much less actually sign up for a plan. The situation varied widely in the 15 states that opted to build their own Obamacare exchanges, with some tallying large numbers of visitors and applications and others continuing to stumble. Most, though not all, of the state exchanges are in Democratic-led states that support the president’s health law (Norman and Millman, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Glitches Continue To Plague Health Insurance Marketplaces
Obama administration officials attributed the problems to high traffic at the federal website — — which is the main portal for consumers in 36 states to select a health plan. Residents of the remaining 14 states, including California, Connecticut and Maryland, and the District of Columbia can use state-operated websites, many of which also continued to struggle to keep up with demand. Californians encountered computer problems and call-center hold times of more than 30 minutes. The Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday that there were 6.1 million unique visits to the federal website on the first day and a half after the site opened Tuesday (Levey, 10/2).

USA Today: High Volume Spurs Health Exchange System Crash
A high number of visitors to the new federal health insurance exchange site Wednesday caused the system to crash or cause prospective insurance customers to endure long waits. The Department of Health and Human Services has tried to limit the problems by changing how site visitors enter the site and reach details on how to shop for and buy insurance (Kennedy, 10/2).

McClatchy: Computer Glitches Still Ail Some State Health Care Signup Sites
The delays, crashes and glitches have marred the October debut of the marketplaces, which serve as a one-stop, online shopping mall for 2014 health insurance coverage required under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides the operating systems for 36 state marketplaces, is adding additional capacity to handle the high user volume. Nearly 5 million unique visits and 104,000 web chat requests were logged on the department’s website on Tuesday, along with 190,000 calls to its 24-hour telephone call center, at 800-318-2596. Those numbers "exceeded anyone's expectations," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday on MSNBC. "We were planning on a lot of people being interested. We had no idea of quite how many" (Pugh, 10/2).

Reuters: U.S. Government Scrambles To Provide Access To Obamacare Sites
The U.S. government on Wednesday scrambled to add computer capacity to handle an unexpectedly large number of Americans logging onto new online insurance marketplaces created under Present Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. Technical glitches and heavy traffic slowed Tuesday's launch of the marketplaces, particularly for the federal website serving 36 states (Morgan and Krauskopf, 10/2).

Bloomberg: Overwhelming Demand For Obamacare Shows Potential Success
Obamacare’s opening day drew millions of consumers to the law’s core insurance exchanges, offering supporters and investors hope that if the websites can stay up and running, customers will follow. In New York, officials said their exchange had 2.5 million visitors in its first half hour yesterday (Nussbaum, 10/2).

San Jose Mercury News: Day Two Of Obamacare: Computers Still Trying To Catch Up With Intense Interest In Insurance Exchanges
It took Clifford Brown until about noon Wednesday to finally access California's online health insurance exchange. Even then, he got as far as creating an account but still couldn't log in. "If my mother was trying this, she would have quit by now,'' said Brown, a 32-year-old musician and independent producer who lives in Emeryville. He hoped for greater success later in the day or by Thursday morning. It didn't help that for two hours Wednesday morning, the enrollment function on the Covered California website was shut down after logos of some of the health plans did not appear because of a computer glitch, according to spokesman Larry Hicks (Seipel, 10/2).

Bloomberg: Lady Gaga Tweets For Obama Health Law To Counter Cruz
Never mind the denunciations by Senator Ted Cruz and other Republican opponents of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law: Lady Gaga has spoken. Forty million Twitter followers received a message yesterday from the pop star: “It’s time to #GetCovered at” (Dorning, 10/3).

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