"I know a lot of people wait until the last minute," Caceres said. "And I was one of them."
In contrast to those in many other states, California's exchange website had largely avoided major technical problems. But even it was hard hit Monday. To keep the state website functioning Monday, Covered California took the unusual step of logging off some online applicants so that other people could start the sign-up process. Shoppers who were kicked off were told they could return later and complete the application by April 15, officials said.
California's exchange continued to lead those in all other states with more than 1.2 million enrollees in private health plans by early Monday. Over the weekend, 124,000 people had opened an account on the state website and started shopping for health coverage. An additional 1.5 million people have been deemed eligible for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Beating the healthcare deadline
( Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / March 31, 2014 )
John Anthony Costa, a state-certified insurance agent in Long Beach, said that he needed to enter insurance applications for 25 families Monday, and that he was able to get only four of them into the online system by late Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, wait times at the state's call centers were exceeding 70 minutes in recent days.
"Every time I try to input the bare minimum, it keeps kicking me off the state website over and over," Costa said. "This is insane."
Echo Park resident Sarah-Jane George, 36, arrived for an appointment midday Monday at an AltaMed enrollment center in Los Angeles. More than 300 people had shown up there by early afternoon.
An enrollment counselor went over her health plan options and she picked a Bronze plan for about $100 a month. But the state website was running so slow that she couldn't finish signing up.
Los Angeles college student Mario Estala, 22, showed up at an enrollment event before 7 a.m. Monday and had better luck.
More than 50 people were ahead of him, and it took about three hours before he was seen by an enrollment counselor at the L.A. event sponsored by a labor union. Estala qualified for Medi-Cal and an enrollment worker rang a bell signaling another successful sign-up. Other workers cheered.
"I was relieved" to get coverage, Estala said. "I feel much more safe now."
Source Los Angeles Times