California officials overstated 1st day exchange numbers

Insurers selling policies on California's health insurance exchange were likely pleased to hear the news that several million people visited the online marketplace on the first day of open enrollment. Unfortunately, the estimates were greatly overstated.

Initially, California officials said the exchange, Covered California, received 5 million hits on its website. It turns out the marketplace really only had 645,000 hits, about a tenth of the original number, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard said internal miscommunication led to the erred data. "Someone misspoke and thought it was indeed 5 million hits. That was incorrect," he told the Times.

And Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the original figures didn't indicate 5 million people actually visited the exchange, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. "To be clear, our Web traffic on Oct. 1 was considerable," he said. "We had more than 514,000 individuals who viewed more than 5 million pages on our website."

But Howard emphasized the revised numbers still signify a strong interest in the exchange. "I think what people need to keep in mind is that these are the very first days," he said. "The idea is to not have everybody enrolled this very first day. They can get on the phone and talk to someone at the call center. They can talk it out and get good solid information and discuss their options. Then they can enroll."

Covered California will release enrollment figures on a monthly basis, Lee added.

To learn more:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- check out the Los Angeles Daily News article

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