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ACA exchange Covered California announces continued high interest in second week

October 15th, 2013 | by Victoria Pelham | Comments

“Strong consumer interest” in the state’s new Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace Covered California continued in its second week of enrollment, with more than 94,500 applications started since its open on Oct. 1, the agency announced Tuesday.

In its first week the exchange saw 43,616 applications, with 38,699 Californians completing the process and determined eligible for coverage.

Call volume and web traffic to Covered California dropped in its second week but remained high.

The site received 602,539 unique visits from Oct. 6 to 12,  totaling more than 1.5 million visits since its open, despite being taken down for maintenance a few times. It had 986,705 visits in the first week of being open.

The marketplace’s customer service line, 800-300-1506, was clogged with calls within its first few days of opening with wait times of more than 30 minutes. Total call volume for the first week was at 59,003, dipping only slightly to 45,785 calls in its second week. Wait times, which averaged around 15 minutes in the first week of the exchange, hovered around 2 minutes by the second week.

The exchange’s insurance plans, which are being offered through Anthem, Blue Shield, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and Molina Healthcare in Riverside County and include key ACA-mandated benefits, aim to provide coverage to millions of uninsured Californians as part of the goal of the ACA. People on the exchange living between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, $11,490 for an individual, will be offered federal tax credits and subsidies to make the now-required insurance more affordable.

The Covered California website has experienced some glitches, though maintenance has taken care of some of the issues and the exchange seems to be running more smoothly than the federal marketplace site. Covered California still does not have a doctor and hospital network search feature that was originally expected by Oct. 1, then 7, leaving people who apply without a resource to access information on whether their doctors or hospitals will be in-network on the exchange plans.

The application site is also currently down as of Tuesday evening for maintenance but will “be back soon.”

The marketplace has eased some of its training delays by certifying 279 enrollment counselors, 1,295 insurance agents and 5,287 county workers in the first two weeks. There are 3,824 enrollment counselors with certification in progress, along with 3,382 insurance agents and 5,421 county eligibility workers. In the valley federally qualified health centers Borrego Community Health Foundation and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo have applied to be certified enrollment entities. Other organizations and insurance agents, such as the Desert Healthcare District and California Endowment, are also working on a plan surrounding outreach and enrollment efforts in the desert.

The Covered California plans will go into effect Jan. 1, along with the rest of the country’s ACA exchange plans, and the first enrollment period will end March 31.

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