State insurance exchange-website outages create ‘a high level of frustration’
The recent prolonged outages of the state health-insurance-exchange website have fueled a sense of concern and urgency that many consumers won’t have enough time to sign up for coverage that kicks in with the new year.
Officials of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange, said Thursday that they have heard a lot of concern from Washington residents in recent days, especially after the four days of website outages last week and intermittent outages this week.
“We’re aware that it’s created a lot of angst in the community,” exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said at the exchange board’s monthly meeting Thursday in SeaTac. “We’re seeing a high level of frustration.”
Board member Melanie Curtice, a partner at Stoel Rives law firm, said she’s “certainly getting phone calls and emails, and I’m sure others are as well.”
The most immediate concern for many consumers is a Dec. 23 deadline to apply through the website for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
The outage also accelerated the number of phone calls to an already overloaded customer-support center, causing more frustration among those unable to get to agents there.
It also has led to the state insurance commissioner to suggest strongly that consumers try other avenues to sign up for insurance, including using the services of an insurance agent or broker.