By Jeff King
It’s a new day in Hawai’i and across the nation. As uncertainty about whether our government can function – and at what level – grips citizens, the core issue of health care is getting a secondary jolt in at least two states.
In Hawai’i, October 1 was the day consumers were to be able to shop, compare coverages and register online at the Hawaii Health Connector, the state-run health insurance exchange established under the federal Affordable Care Act. But those dreaded “technical difficulties” have delayed the process. Now the “soft launch” is hoped for by this Friday, October 4. Open enrollment was to have begun on Tuesday, and consumers have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage that will start on Jan. 1.
The Hawaii Health Connector is supposed to offer 95 different plans from the Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
Meanwhile, even the “capitol of Microsoft” is not immune to “glitches.” Washington state’s new health insurance marketplace opens for business on Tuesday.
The state’s answer to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was supposed to launch at 7:30 a.m. online, as well as be available via the telephone and in person at locations around the state. However, many users had trouble getting the website to load. In response to the website issues, Health Plan Finder released this statement:
“This morning, we determined that consumers attempting to enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder experienced slow loading times or difficulty completing their application. While this is not affecting all users, the site was placed into maintenance mode in order to identify and correct these issues.
“Our team has made a few modifications to the site and are currently in the process of bringing Washington Healthplanfinder back online. We will continue to closely monitor the website for any performance issues and will take additional action as needed.
“Again, the experience of our customers is our top priority and we thank you for your patience as we work to bring the site back up to Washingtonians statewide.”
State officials said before the launch that they were ready and waiting for customers to call, sign on or stop by.
In the meantime, all of us are waiting to see if the in-fighting (and out-fighting) among our elected officials will draw to a conslusion soon. And when/if that happens, what will the Affordable Care Act look like at that point? For now, we know Haleakala National Park is closed and federally-paid workers are in limbo or furlough.