Technology glitches made it a tough opening day in Florida for a key component of the Affordable Care Act.
As residents tried to shop for health insurance in the federal online marketplace, reports Kelli Kennedy in the Associated Press, many were not able to enroll, facing apology messages due to high internet traffic.
In addition, those who tried to sign up through call centers, or through online chat support, found longer-than-expected waits.
More than 2.8 million people visited the healthcare.org website on Monday. Tuesday the site had seven times more viewers than ever visited Medicare website.
The online speed is steadily improving, and the problems are being fixed, Marilyn Tavenner told AP reporters. Tavenner is an administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“This is day one of a process. We’re in a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.
University of South Florida received the largest grant to provide “navigator” services for the healthcare exchange, and was prepared for the high traffic. Navigators are supposed to help customers sign up for the exchange, as well as help them choose the right plan. Community health centers in the state were also busy helping new customers, with one Miami clinic seeing 100 consumers in an hour.
So far, Florida has only granted 36 of the 96 official licenses for healthcare navigators, which drew a lot of criticism to Gov. Rick Scott. Earlier, the governor raised privacy concerns over the exchange, which critics say was an attempt to scare people from signing up.
With Florida’s lag in issuing licenses, many of the navigators could not do their jobs on the exchange’s opening day.