Obamacare: Covered California now live for health insurance signups (updated)

President Obama Speaks On The Government Shutdown In The Rose Garden

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Obama speaks at the White House Tuesday about the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces.

Covered California kickoff event group shot

Stephanie O'Neill

Mayor Eric Garcetti poses with celebrants at a kick off event for Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange.

Lee and Garcetti for Covered CA

Stephanie O'Neill

Peter Lee (on left), executive director of Covered California, and LA mayor Eric Garcetti tout Obamacare in LA at a celebration for the opening day of health exchanges.

Painting AltaMed - Santa Ana, Bristol

Jed Kim

Miguel Maldonado applies a final touch of paint to the new counseling center at the AltaMed clinic in Santa Ana. The center will soon feature certified enrollment counselors to help people sign up for care through the Covered California health exchange.


Twitter reactions to Covered California

October 2, 2013 update at 6:00 p.m.:

Covered California has updated tallies of people visiting its site or calling into its call centers on its first day of business. Officials said 514,780 unique visitors went to the site, and about 19,000 people phoned into its two call centers. 

Officials said they will not release information on how many have applied for plans through the exchange until mid-November. 

Update at 4:11 p.m.:

KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill reports that Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said that the exchange website will be down from 9 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday. Lee said the site has had more than 5 million hits and acknowledged that some people phoning into call centers have had long waits for service.

"Some people have had to wait 20 or 30 minutes to get on the phone with a counselor. These are people who have been waiting a lifetime for health insurance," Lee said. "We're going to get better every day, every week, every month."

Update at 3:54 p.m.:

KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill is covering the opening day celebration for Covered California at Union Station in Los Angeles. 

"While folks in Washington are playing politics in Calif we're playing health care, says Peter Lee of. CovCa pic.twitter.com/iW63nF9O74

— Stephanie O'Neill (@ReporterSteph) October 1, 2013

Update at 1:24 p.m.:

Some community clinics are also serving as Covered California enrollment centers, such as an AltaMed clinic in Santa Ana. On Tuesday morning, Miguel Maldonado was rolling a final patch of paint onto the walls. Other workers were vacuuming the new carpet or rearranging the chairs. It was a down-to-the-wire effort - they'd only begun transforming the space in the past couple of weeks, a project that included installing 15 computers that can take clients through the process of applying for insurance.

The workers had plenty of time to finish, however. After three hours, only three people had stopped by to pick up information about Obamacare. They left with some pamphlets. 

Clinic officials said they expected people to begin showing up later in the afternoon. 

Update at 12:15 p.m.:

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard said there was "an exceptionally strong response" when the marketplace opened for business. He said there were 10,000 hits on the Covered California website when it opened at 8 a.m., and that in the first 90 minutes, there were more than 6,000 calls to the two call centers.

Some people found the website easy to use, while others had "a little bit of difficulty" with web pages loading slowly, said Howard. He attributed that to the high rate of usage.

Howard said Covered California will not have numbers on how many people applied for insurance until the end of the week or next week.

Previously: 

Covered California, the state-run health insurance marketplace created by the federal Affordable Care Act, opened for business Tuesday.

Covering California series icon 2013

The online exchange opened at 8 a.m., with a ceremonial flipping of a switch. The state also has three call centers for people to sign up by phone, although only two of them opened Tuesday: one in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, and another in Concord, in Contra Costa County. The third call center, in Fresno, will open sometime in the fall, according to a Covered California spokeswoman.

 
Some five million Californians are eligible to sign up for insurance under the ACA, also known as Obamacare. More than half of them are expected to qualify for federal subsidies that will lower the cost of their premiums.
 

Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee had predicted that there would be some glitches and delays as the marketplace opens, given the complexity of the task.

We asked folks on Facebook if they've been able to successfully navigate Covered California's website. Some said the server is down — but others were able to select a desired health plan. Click on "comments" below to read what they had to say. 

 

Have you visited Covered California's website today? Share your feedback in comments, on Facebook or tweet us at @KPCC

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