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For Many Insurance Shoppers, Obamacare Marketplace is a Digital Waiting Room

It’s Day Two for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace – and things are still slow going for many.

Sarah Bates is one of the uninsured Texans searching for affordable health insurance in the federal marketplace. Working over 40 hours a week as an Austin musician, she approached the marketplace skeptically.
“It definitely makes me nervous in some ways because I want to have insurance, I really do. And this is supposed to make it possible,” Bates says. “But what if it doesn’t make it possible? … It’s like knowing the answer is on the other side of the door, and they won’t let you in.”

Bates visited the marketplace when launched on October 1, but she was soon met with a message asking her to wait until a login page was available. After ten minutes Bates was finally forwarded to that page – but there were problems with the application form and Bates received a message saying the system was unavailable.

Maybe technical problems should have been expected, since is attempting to meet a high demand: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is supporting or fully running the insurance marketplaces in 36 states. Approximately 3 million Americans visited on the marketplace’s first day. Here in Texas, over six million are uninsured.

The federal marketplace will spend the next six months signing Texans up for health insurance, with some – like Bates – qualifying for government subsidies to lower their monthly costs. While Bates is still waiting to finalize her purchase, she did receive an insurance quote that she can afford – before she was booted off the marketplace.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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