Capitol Alert: On launch day, Covered California website stalls

jwhite@sacbee.comOctober 1, 2013 

5C24EXCHANGE

"This is a day when for millions dreams come true," Peter Lee, head of the state's health exchange, said as the clock ticked down to the official launch in Rancho Cordova. "This is a day when people finally will have access to quality, affordable health care that cannot be denied and cannot be taken away."

LEZLIE STERLING — lsterling@sacbee.com

Technical issues have hobbled the launch of California's online health insurance portal, created as part of the federal health care overhaul.

While a dispute over the new law sent the federal government careening into a shutdown, states have stuck to an Oct. 1 open enrollment date for the new health insurance exchanges that constitute one of the law's central features. California marked the occasion with fanfare, holding official events around the state.

But a Tuesday morning visit to the online marketplace where consumers can shop for insurance plans and compare price and benefits, suggested that the roll out has slowed.

A click on the "start here" button leads to a page that takes several minutes to load. When the page does load, its formatting appears to be faulty, and clicking through to the next step brings additional delays. When The Bee called the customer support line, a recording advised that the wait for service would be longer than 30 minutes.

A non-scientific search of the hashtag "#CoveredCA" on Twitter revealed users encountering similar problems, with a steady stream of messages testifying to long lags.

A spokeswoman for Covered California did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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