SATURDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Health and Human
Services Department announced late Friday that the healthcare.gov
site -- a key to the launch of the new health care insurance
exchanges -- would be unavailable during "off-peak" hours over the
weekend for repairs.
The exact hours the site won't be available to consumers was not
specified. But an HHS spokeswoman told the
Associated Pressthat the site would be unavailable for
enrollment functions a few hours each night beginning at 1 a.m. ET.
The site will remain open for general information, however.
Trouble has bedeviled the site since its launch on Tuesday, with
consumers in many parts of the United States encountering online
bottlenecks while trying to price health plans and enroll in
The Obama administration tried to put a positive spin on the
rocky launch, highlighting what officials called strong demand by
Americans hoping for cheap, available health insurance coverage. In
a news release announcing the planned fixes, the government said
that "Americans are excited to look at their options for health
coverage, with record demand in the first days of the
HealthCare.Gov, the federal government website serving people in
36 states, posted a message much of the week thanking users for
their patience while they waited in a virtual queue to log into the
The exchanges are a key component of the Affordable Care Act,
the Obama administration's broad yet controversial health-reform
package designed to bring insurance to tens of millions of
Americans who lack coverage.
The exchanges' debut has been marked by computer glitches and
long wait times.
Minnesota's health exchange, called MNsure, got off to a bumpy
start Tuesday, including a server crash when the site went live.
But by Wednesday afternoon, more than 2,500 insurance accounts had
been created, the Minneapolis
Although Vermont's exchange was sluggish on Wednesday amid heavy
traffic, staff members were working to speed up the website,
according to an
The upside to the glitches, according to health-reform
advocates, is that there seems to be strong demand for health
insurance among the uninsured.
The federal government has yet to release enrollment numbers, so
it's unclear whether the online traffic jams have resulted in many
sales of insurance policies.
Kathryn Gaglione, manager of public relations at the National
Association of Health Underwriters, said health insurance agents
and brokers were dealing with delays getting online just as much as
"We know it's frustrating for everyone," she said.
While the slowdown may have squelched sales to a certain extent,
Gaglione noted that the exchanges have only been open for several
days. "Overall, it's more than likely that the same amount of
policies will be sold, just not in the first week," she said.
The conservative think tank American Action Forum released an
analysis Wednesday that said premium rates for young adults in 44
states would more than double, and possibly triple, in 2014 under
the Affordable Care Act, compared with 2013 rates.
Premiums for the lowest-priced coverage available this year,
averaging $62 a month, would rise to $187 a month in 2014, a 202
percent increase. A healthy 30-year-old male nonsmoker could see a
260 percent spike in the lowest-cost insurance option, the analysis
The probability of "young invincibles" complying with the
government's individual mandate "appears fairly low," the report
But Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance
at The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health foundation, said
the American Action Forum report doesn't provide a complete picture
because health plans available on the exchanges are more
comprehensive than some plans on the market today.
What's more, Collins said, "Most young adults who are uninsured
have incomes that put them in the range of the tax credits." And
while the report focuses on healthy young men, it fails to mention
that "a lot of young women are actually going to see their premiums
go down," she added.
Young adults' participation in the insurance exchanges is
considered crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act, which
requires that most Americans get health insurance or pay a fine.
Insuring young, healthy people will help to offset the risk of
covering older, sicker adults, experts say.
Health-reform advocates said the scope of the registration
problems suggested that the controversial law -- which triggered a
historic clash between Republicans and Democrats that produced the
government shutdown on Tuesday -- could be just what the doctor
ordered for many Americans lacking insurance. The initial interest
in exploring coverage options hinted at pent-up demand for the kind
of coverage now being offered, the
Here's how to find
the health exchange serving your state.
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