Health care website stumbles on last day

Health care website stumbles on last day
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The Obama administration's health care website is stumbling on deadline day for sign-ups.

After went down overnight, the Obama administration says a new technical problem is preventing last-minute users from signing up on the government's health insurance website. The new problem comes as traffic is surging on deadline day.

Health and Human Services spokesman Aaron Albright says technicians have identified an issue affecting consumers who are trying to create new accounts.

As a result, new users will not be able to access the system for the time-being. Technicians are working to fix the problem.

People with existing accounts can continue to work on their applications.

Albright said more than 100,000 people are using the system at the same time.

Earlier, Albright said the website undergoes "regular nightly maintenance" during off-peak hours and that period was extended because of a "technical problem." He didn't say what the problem was, but a statement from the Health and Human Services Department called it "a software bug" unrelated to application volume.

People may also complete their application by telephone (1-800-318-2596).

Frustration greets last-minute enrollees

The Eskenazi Health lobby was crowded with people who waited until the last minute to sign up. They were standing in line just to sign into the system. After that, they still had to wait to talk to a navigator who can help them through the process.

Everyone at Eskenazi was looking to meet the midnight deadline to enroll.

This morning, Eskenazi Health officials said problems were minimal, but that was before the afternoon's new website glitches.

"We've had a couple of issues where folks have had to log out and log back in but in general, we've been able to keep customers moving through the process," said Melissa Masterson, Eskenazi Health.

"I can't blame nobody, because I waited until the last minute myself," said Tyrone Corbin, who has no insurance.

Masterson anticipated it would be a "long day," with over 300 people checked in Monday. Between 8:00 am and noon, Masterson said they'd helped 135 people.

"We're up for the challenge," Masterson added.

During the enrollment period, Eskenazi has helped around 1,800 people sign up for health care every week. They signed up 1,300 during an enrollment seminar on Saturday.

The Federal call center, there to help people through the enrollment process, received 2.5 million calls last week. That's more calls than the center received in the entire month of February.

Eskenazi officials saw this crowd coming and prepared.

"For the past week-and-a-half, we've been getting hundreds of people to enroll in health care," Masterson said.

People like LaTonya Barnett, whose employer doesn't provide health insurance and she is wary of getting by without it.

"It is almost impossible to get even regular check-ups," Barnett said.

The government-subsidized program is intended to proved affordable health insurance to low- and moderate-income families that don't qualify for other government assistance.

Recently diagnosed with diabetes, Marsha Summers is praying she qualifies.

"Exactly. I am hoping this goes through. It shouldn't be a problem. We'll keep my fingers crossed," Summers said.

It may have worked. By mid-afternoon, the enrollment website was running again.