The good news about the long-awaited and highly anticipated opening of the health insurance exchanges is millions of consumers logged onto the websites to search for available health plans. The bad news, however, is technical glitches prevented many of those consumers from actually enrolling or creating online accounts.
On Tuesday alone, almost 2.8 million people visited the federal-run exchange website, including more than 1 million people by 7 a.m. But those consumers ran into technical difficulties, including drop-down boxes that prevented them from answering security questions or establishing new accounts. Call centers also were overloaded, causing some consumers to have to wait more than 30 minutes before speaking with a representative, reported Reuters.
Across the country, the exchange rollout experienced hiccups in both federal and state-run exchanges. In Maryland, which is considered one of the most prepared states for reform, officials had to delay the opening of its exchange until noon because of a problem with its interface with local health departments. But even after it opened, operations were slow, the Washington Post reported.
California's marketplace was operating slowly because 5 million people were trying to access the website, and New York officials said their state's exchange experienced log-in issues due to "overwhelming interest" from more than two million visits in the first two hours, reported the Wall Street Journal.
President Barack Obama assured the public his administration would "handle all this demand" and the resulting malfunctions. "Like every new law, every new product roll out, there are going to be some glitches in the signup process along the way that we will fix. I've been saying this from the start," he said Tuesday afternoon in a speech in the Rose Garden, Politico reported.
And by day two, the functioning of exchange websites showed improvement. The federal marketplace and most state-run exchanges were operating smoothly at the start of Wednesday. Although exchange websites in New York, Nevada, Oregon and Washington were either unavailable or experiencing delays, according to Bloomberg.