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WAS IT A FIB? California's health insurance exchange changes figure on Web site hits

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Could they have been -- lying? Officials with the Covered California Web site in all actuality only got 645,000 hits during the first day of enrollment. The problem is -- is that they previously said that FIVE MILLION visitors were reported earlier this week. Most everyone would agree that proclaiming five million visits are far, far more than little more than half a million. What's up?

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The state exchange had previously cited the five million figure as a sign of strong consumer interest. They also used as the chief excuse as to why people had so much difficulty using its $313-million online enrollment system.

"Someone misspoke and thought it was indeed 5 million hits. That was incorrect," Dana Howard, a spokesman for Covered California, said  adding that the error was the result of internal mis-communication. He said the revised Web traffic still represents a huge response and that the number of unique online visitors Tuesday was 514,000 and the state received 19,000 calls.

Californians were still running into computer problems and long hold times during the second day of enrollment under the federal healthcare law, which prompted Covered California to shut down its online enrollment system - twice.

California took the Web site down from 9 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday to make technical repairs. Covered California then took enrollment offline for two hours Wednesday morning because information on health plans wasn't loading properly.

These problems could frustrate consumers and hamper enrollment efforts. California hopes to sign up more than two million people through next year, the most of any state.

While some consumers said they were able to create an account on the state's website at www.coveredca.com, they say the system crashed after that. Consumers calling for information continued to face wait times of 30 minutes or more. Some call-center representatives at the exchange told people they were having trouble accessing the state system themselves, further slowing down the enrollment process.

California has ONLY about 300 people answering calls now, and it plans to add an additional 150 employees next month at a call center opening in Fresno.

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