UPDATE: Website for Obamacare enrollment not working on day one - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Website for Obamacare enrollment not working on day one

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MADISON (WKOW) -- While the government may be partially shutdown over the Affordable Care Act, enrollment for the program began as scheduled Tuesday.  But not without some serious problems.

The website for the federal insurance marketplace that people from Wisconsin and 35 other states will have to use to enroll in Obamacare went live at midnight, but it hasn't worked all day.

While the main page for healthcare.gov did come up Tuesday morning, attempts to log in to the site and search insurance plans and rates caused the site to either freeze or redirected to a page that stated: "The system is down at the moment.  We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.  Please try again later."

By noon, that page was gone, replaced by one that simply read: "Health Insurance Marketplace - Please Wait.  We have a lot of visitors on the site right now and we are working to make your experience better."

"Its kind of at a standstill," said Elissa Sprecher, one of four Certified Application Counselors for Access Community Health Centers.  "I think they're being overwhelmed right now with people all over the United States trying to apply."

Sprecher and her colleagues did whatever they could to at least provide answers to people wanting to know more about the Affordable Care Act at the Dane County Jobs Center.

"People right now that are coming in, don't really know what they need to apply, so, we're giving them the checklist and letting them know that we would need the following verifications before we would do the application with them," said Sprecher.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told 27 News late this afternoon they are aware of the problems with the federal marketplace website and are working on it.  They say the site got a much larger number of hits than they were expecting, close to 3 million by late afternoon.

"The IT piece of this is a large piece," said Dan Schwartzer, Deputy Commissioner at the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

Schwartzer says he expected there to be problems with the website.

"Just the sheer volume of people that are looking at the site today, I don't think its a big surprise that there's some glitches, that it's down.  The question is how long will it be down for," said Schwartzer.

But the four companies offering insurance through the exchange in Dane County are doing their best to make up for it.  Unity, Dean, Group Health Cooperative and Physicians Plus all put information about their plans and rates on their own websites.

There is no word on when the healthcare.gov site will be fully operational.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin residents who were planning to sign up for health insurance on day one of enrollment through the Affordable Care Act are having to wait.

That's because the website at healthcare.gov is not working, making it impossible to access the federal marketplace online.

Wisconsin residents who want to enroll in Obamacare must use the federal marketplace, because Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) declined the opportunity to set up a state-run exchange in 2012.

Numerous attempts by 27 News staff members to log in to the site and search insurance rates for Wisconsin have been unsuccessful.  The site either freezes at some point or redirects to a screen that states: "The system is down at the moment.  We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.  Please try again later." 

27 News has sent an email to the U.S. Health and Human Services Public Affairs Office asking why the website is not working, but we have yet to receive a reply.

Coverage would not begin until January 1, 2014.

The deadline to sign up is December 15, 2013.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is following this story and will have more on 27 News at 5 and 6.

 

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