State's health insurance exchange website has issues opening day

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

Updated: October 1, 2013, 3:27 PM

 

Washington’s health insurance marketplace got off to a rocky start Tuesday morning.

Shortly after launching Washington Healthplanfinder at 7:30 a.m., the exchange pulled the website offline to correct problems plaguing site visitors. The site, www.wahealthplanfinder.org, was finally back up and running at 1:30 p.m.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange, the public-private partnership tasked with implementing Healthplanfinder, put the site in maintenance mode to determine why some consumers trying to enroll in health coverage were experiencing slow loading times or difficulty completing their applications.

The exchange’s information technology staff investigated the issues and made system modifications to correct the problems. But exchange officials warn consumers may still experience bumps with the website.

“Please note that some users may still experience intermittent issues completing online applications,” Richard Onizuka, chief executive officer of the exchange, said in a news release. “We encourage all applicants to save their information and return to wahealthplanfinder.org should such a situation arise.”

The site may be temporarily unavailable again at 8 p.m. as IT staff conduct additional maintenance, he said.

“We remain committed to providing consumers with the most seamless online experience possible and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Onizuka said.

Uninsured residents have until March 31 to purchase health coverage for themselves and their families through the state-based insurance marketplaces, such as Washington Healthplanfinder. In 36 states that opted to not to run their own exchanges, the federal government is operating a marketplace.

The federal exchange and state-based exchanges across the country experienced problems as open enrollment launched Tuesday morning.

The federal exchange, www.healthcare.gov, had more than 1 million visitors before 7 a.m., overloading the site and causing temporary unavailability.

Glitches, delays and outages were also reported with state-based exchanges in Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, New York and Maryland, among others.