California Healthline: Exchange Swamped, Bends the Rules

by David Gorn

A record-setting number of Californians trying to sign up for health insurance jammed the Covered California website yesterday, prompting exchange officials to soften the deadline rules.

Californians who tried but were unable to create an online account by midnight last night will have a second chance. They can contact Covered California representatives and explain that they tried but were unable to get into the system on March 31. They have until midnight April 15 to choose a plan and complete their application.

Those who managed to start an application before yesterday’s Affordable Care Act deadline will have until April 15 to finish it. Those who applied but have yet to pay their first premium have until April 15 to pay.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, it was clear to exchange officials that the system couldn’t handle the volume. By 2:30 p.m. there were a record 324,000 unique visitors to the site since the deadline day began, with more than 5.7 million pages viewed. By comparison, the previous deadline day — Dec. 23 the last day to sign up for coverage to start Jan. 1 — the site had 1.9 million page views.

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