Surge in healthcare sign ups crashes, delays Affordable Care Act - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Surge in healthcare sign ups crashes, delays Affordable Care Act website

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On Monday a surge in last minute healthcare enrollments crashed the Affordable Care Act website. On Monday a surge in last minute healthcare enrollments crashed the Affordable Care Act website.

It was the final surge for those in West Virginiaand around the country to sign up for private healthcare insurance under theAffordable Care Act. Under the law, enrollment ended at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time for the 36 states served by thefederal government's exchange.

However, on Monday there was a spike in last minute enrollments. Approximately1.6 million people logged onto the www.healthcare.govwebsite by 2 p.m. and over 860,000people called the help centers by 4 p.m.

"Some people had trouble, some people it worked smoothly. So it's just touchand go," said Rebecca Gouty, an application counselor at the West VirginiaBureau for Senior Services.

On Monday the www.healthcare.gov websitecrashed for six hours in the morning and then again in the afternoon into theevening. The site redirected those to a ‘virtual waiting room,' urging those totry again later.

For most of the day the phone lines were jammed too. "We're sorry but due toextremely high call volumes all of our customer service representatives arecurrently busy. Please call back later in the day or during the weekend," anautomated message said.

At the West Virginia Bureau for Senior Services, application specialistssaid they helped about a dozen people complete the process. However, about twodozen people were unable to begin the process.

"We have no idea how long the wait is going to be. It could be two minutes,it could be three hours," said Shaun Adams, an application counselor at theWest Virginia Bureau for Senior Service.

13 News Reporter Ariel Rothfield decided to time how long it would take tolog onto the website and create an account. It took over an hour and 15 minutesto get past the ‘waiting room.'

"I'm just here to help people understand their responsibilities and whatthey need to do," said Adams. "So it's frustrating to meto see them get frustrated because of the problems that keep coming up."

President Obama's administration says it will extend thedeadline for those who tried to enroll unsuccessfully, penalty-free. The extensionwill be based on an honor system.

According to the law, those who don't sign up face a fine ofas much as 1 percent of their yearly income. Last week President Obama said approximately6 million Americans signed up for health insurance.