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Maryland

First Day "Bottleneck" For Maryland Health Care Exchange

Maryland’s new health insurance website may have been a victim Tuesday of its own success.

A technical glitch delayed by four hours the official opening of the virtual shopping network for health insurance coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act.  But that was fixed quickly.  The bigger problem was “a bottleneck created by volume,” said Carolyn Quattrocki,  executive director of the governor’s office of health care reform. “It is a good news piece of this.”

As with other states that have moved aggressively to help people without health insurance learn about new benefits that may be available to them, Maryland’s internet shopping site hit overload almost as soon as it got going. State officials estimated the site had received  more than 87,000 individual inquiries by late afternoon.   The pace of response was sluggish, but Quattrocki said called that “a short term problem, a very short term problem.” Other state-run exchanges, as well as those run by the federal government, also experienced significant delays.

Now that it’s opened, the website, marylandhealthconnection.gov, will be available 24 hours a day. For those needing human help sorting through the maze, call centers are also available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and for shorter hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Those who enroll in a plan by December 18th will get coverage starting January 1. The open enrollment period closes on March 31.