In an article by Chad Terhune October 9, 2013, the LA Times reported that 29,000 people had successfully applied for coverage with Covered California the preceding week.
Covered California released the data earlier than planned to counter “misinformation” and reports about widespread glitches preventing people from signing up.
“This continued drumbeat of doubters and misinformation made us say, ‘Let’s put this out,'” Lee said. Pointing to persistent Republican efforts in Washington to defund or delay Obamacare as a federal government shutdown drags on, Lee said that “you can’t derail something when it has already left the station. We are going very strong.”
California’s enrollment efforts are significant because of its size and strong political backing for the Affordable Care Act. California is one of 14 states running their own insurance exchange; the federal government is operating the marketplace in the 36 other states.
“This is a good start, but the pace of enrollment will have to accelerate for California to meet its goals,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “I hope they have eliminated the glitches.”
In California, 16,311 households had completed the application process through Saturday the 5th, representing 28,699 people. Consumers had started an additional 27,305 applications that are still pending while they consider their options and keep shopping.
“This blew the socks off anything we expected,” Lee said.
Lee acknowledged that the state website has been slow and “clunky” in the first week, but he said computer upgrades are making it “faster every day.” He also said service-center employees were answering calls within five minutes by the end of last week, down from 30 minutes beforehand.
Experts say the real test for California and other exchanges will come in November and early December when websites, call centers and enrollment counselors come under even greater pressure. Enrollment in exchanges nationwide runs through March 31. But consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 if they want coverage in effect by Jan. 1.