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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Health Insurance Marketplaces Open for Business

Opening-Day Complications continued...

Indeed, WebMD readers reported that when they attempted to access, the starting point for the federally operated Marketplaces, they received the error message “Your account could not be created at this time. The system is unavailable.” The Marketplaces are operated by the federal government or in partnership with state governments in 36 states.

In the other 14 states and in the District of Columbia, which are running their own versions of the insurance Marketplace, there were different reports of complications. Maryland’s Marketplace crashed and a message said it was not opening until noon, while Minnesota said its Exchange wouldn’t open until later in the afternoon.

In Vermont, not only was the computer system slow, but also the site won’t accept premium payments until November. In Washington, D.C., the Exchange can’t yet calculate available subsidies for consumers, while in New York, volume was so high, consumers encountered error messages. In Ohio, the online Marketplace crashed repeatedly. Rocky King, executive director of Oregon's online Exchange, said they were holding back some features of the web site for a week or so to make sure it was operating properly.

In California, Jordan Zavaleta, 26, had what seemed like a typical experience trying to explore his options. The aspiring actor says he thinks his state's online Marketplace “must be flooded with people trying to sign up” because the site was moving very slowly.

Health Reform and the Government Shutdown

Opponents of the law seized on its problems as evidence that the administration has bungled the launch.

“The reality is that [Democrats] passed a law that said that there would be [health insurance] Exchanges up and running by Oct. 1, and they aren’t running,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of American Action Forum, a center-right policy think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Congress reached an impasse on funding the federal government over the launch of the Marketplaces, and at midnight Monday, the federal government shut down non-essential services. The shutdown doesn’t directly affect the rollout of the Marketplaces because funding for the Affordable Care Act falls under “mandatory” spending that isn’t affected by the current budget debate.

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