Obamacare Gets Off to Bumpy Start With Snafus, Delays

October 2, 2013
State and federal officials scrambled to open the online marketplaces by Oct. 1, ultimately opting to drop some functions in order to meet the deadline

Officials scrambled to open the online marketplaces by Oct. 1, ultimately opting to drop some functions in order to meet the deadline

DENVER—Colorado launched Tuesday its much-heralded Obamacare health-insurance exchange, and to nobody’s surprise, there were glitches.

A problem with error messages delayed online sign-ups shortly after the Connect for Health Colorado Marketplace kicked in at 8 a.m. Tuesday, forcing administrators to suspend the account-creation function until about noon, according to a statement.

“We’ve addressed these errors and are in the process of enabling creation,” said the statement. “We expect consumers will be able to start creating accounts again before 12:30 MST today.”

At 12:30 p.m., however, the problem hadn’t been resolved. 7News reported that its efforts to create an account online were stalled until 2:50 p.m.

The technical difficulties weren’t unique to Colorado. Nationally, the health-insurance exchanges, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, reported snafus and delays as millions of consumers attempted to access the online systems.

Critics pointed out that the White House and Democrats staunchly resisted efforts to delay the implementation of Obamacare despite warnings that the exchanges weren’t ready for prime time.

Last month, thousands of Coloradans received letters from their insurance companies cancelling their policies as a result of Obamacare’s heightened requirements.

Colorado Republican Party chair Ryan Call described the program Tuesday as a “train wreck.”

“Americans were promised by President Obama and Sen. Udall that they could keep their doctor and their health care plan if they liked it, but over the last month many have seen their current coverage dropped and replaced with more expensive plans,” said Call in a statement.

“Even the President understands that his signature health plan is a train wreck, that’s why he created exemptions for his union friends, large corporations, Congress and congressional staffers.  It’s unfair that President Obama and Sen. Udall have refused to extend these same exemptions to individuals, working families and small business owners that aren’t as politically connected with this Democrat administration,” said Call.

Still, President Obama defended the launch in a Rose Garden speech, calling Tuesday a “historic day” and dismissing the problems as those typically associated with a new product and heavy online traffic.

“Like every new law, like every new product rollout, there are going to be some glitches in the sign-up process along the way that we will fix,” said the president.

Colorado is one of 14 states and the District of Columbia to run its own insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, while the federal government operates exchanges for the other 36 states.

State and federal officials scrambled to open the online marketplaces by Oct. 1, ultimately opting to drop some functions in order to meet the deadline. In Colorado, officials said in August that the system won’t be ready to allow eligible buyers to obtain their tax credits online for at least the first month.

Trying to connect the health-care exchange to the Medicaid computer system has resulted in another source of headaches. Colorado’s exchange tested 100,000 scenarios to see how its software calculated subsidies, and got error after error, according to a Saturday report by Reuters.

“It’s an IT nightmare,” said Connect for Health Colorado board member Nathan Wilkes.

Officials with Connect for Health Colorado reported Tuesday that the exchange received 34,500 unique visitors and saw 1,300 accounts created in the first three hours.

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