Nearly 1 million visit in week one

Nearly 1 million Californians have visited a new online insurance marketplace that is the centerpiece of the federal health reform known as the Affordable Care Act, officials say.  Of those visitors between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, about 16,000 completed the eligibility process, and with family members, they represented about 28,000 consumers. But officials with Covered California, the state-run and federally funded agency that created and manages the marketplace, couldn’t say how many of those people will actually buy insurance. At this point the system takes consumers through the eligibility process but does not ask them for payment; they will be billed by the insurance company they choose. And those bills probably won’t go out until mid-November for policies that take effect Jan. 1. “The train has left the station,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. “These are big numbers and they are proof of pent-up demand.” Lee acknowledged that consumers who logged into the system or called the agency’s 800-number in the first few days faced long wait times and many of them probably gave up. But he said by week’s end the waits for telephone help were down to an average of four minutes, and the agency’s goal is to serve everyone within 30 seconds.


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