LANSING (WWJ/AP) — People waiting until the last-minute to start the enrollment process at HealthCare.gov on Monday met with more technical problems.
Federal officials said a new technical glitch briefly prevented new users from signing up on the government’s health insurance website, as traffic surged on deadline day with an estimated 100,000 people using the system at the same time.
A Health and Human Services spokesman said technicians identified an issue affecting consumers trying to create new accounts, but the problem was fixed.
Officials said the website went offline entirely for almost four hours earlier in the day, coming back up shortly before 9 a.m.
Monday was supposed to be the last day to register for health insurance although millions of people are potentially eligible for extensions for various reasons, like technical problems.
Advocates and insurers have been making a last-ditch push to sign up Michigan residents before Tuesday for coverage under the federal health care law.
People who start an application by Monday can enroll for this year in the insurance exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Monday is the last day to register for health insurance although millions of people are potentially eligible for extensions for various reasons.
Kelsey Maccombs with the group Enroll Michigan said they’ve received lots of requests for help.
“Today has been a flood of calls,” Maccombs told WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee. “People looking for information, looking for last-minute enrollment assistance, or just questions. We’re getting a lot of questions about the Health Michigan plan, too —the Medicaid expansion that starts tomorrow. ”
Enrollment events are scheduled across the state, including at the Detroit Fire Department, Flint City Hall and Planned Parenthood in Detroit.
“We’ll be taking a lot of phone calls, we’ll be helping people understand all the confusion that’s out there, and we’ll be making sure people pay their first month’s premium to effectuate their coverage,” said Marti Lolli, director of health care reform at Priority Health, a Michigan insurance provider.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act, has been working for weeks to get those Detroiters without coverage to register.
“People who don’t have health insurance, they live sicker, they suffer more, and they die earlier,” said Duggan. “Those are medical facts, and running the Detroit Medical Center I saw it every day.
“And so I’ve been engaged, along with a lot of people in this community, on a huge push to get everyone possible enrolled,” Duggan said.
About 145,000 Michigan residents had enrolled in private insurance plans by early March. The figures released through the Health and Human Services Department also showed roughly 314,000 people in the state had completed an application and were eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan.
An Associated Press analysis of state-by-state enrollment numbers showed that Michigan is one of 13 states that have been running ahead of their enrollment targets. As of Thursday, 6 million people have signed up nationally.
Michigan’s federally controlled insurance website allows consumers to compare and buy insurance. It’s a key element of the health law along with an expansion of Medicaid to more low-income adults, which begins Tuesday in Michigan.
The government says it will accept paper applications until April 7 and take as much time as necessary to handle unfinished cases on HealthCare.gov — but people risk being fined for not having health insurance starting in April.
Despite the technical problems, the Obama administration says it is on track to sign-up about 6.5 million people for health insurance by Monday night’s deadline,
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