Health plan website fixes errors, draws customers

OLYMPIA – More than 165,000 people have visited Washington’s website designed to help them find medical insurance, and about 9,400 individuals or families have enrolled in some type of plan.

After some computer problems in the opening days that resulted in long delays for both the website and at call centers, state officials say the system is improved and has run smoothly since Saturday morning.

“They’ve ironed out most of the problems,” Bethany Frey, a spokeswoman for Washington Healthplanfinder, said Monday afternoon.

The average wait time for the call centers is about 10 minutes, down from 14 minutes on Friday. There were no significant wait times for pages to load from the website on Monday, Frey said.

The website has been visited more than 837,000 times, and some 2.7 million pages have been viewed since Oct. 1.

“We have lots of folks poking around the site,” Frey said.

Figures from the website show that about one out of four visitors sets up an account, providing the information needed to compare health plans and get estimates on rates and possible assistance with costs. Of the slightly more than 39,000 accounts set up, about 10,500 have completed applications and 9,452 have enrolled in some form of health care coverage.

Of the people who have enrolled, about 2,600 are eligible right now for coverage under Medicaid, and about 6,000 will be covered under that joint federal-state program starting next year. About 900 have enrolled in other health plans.

The statistics suggest people are coming back several times and weighing their options. The number of enrollments may be low compared to the accounts set up because people know they have until Dec. 23 to sign up, Frey said.

“It’s a good thing that people are shopping around,” she said. “It isn’t like people shopping for shoes online.”

Richard Onizuka, chief executive officer of the exchange, said they shouldn’t wait until the last minute to sign up, to be sure they can complete their application and make their choices in time.

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