State Exchange Recovers From Federal Data Crash

11:43 PM, Oct 29, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - When the health exchanges opened under Obamacare, there were plenty of technical problems that prevented people from buying insurance online.

Those problems seem to have been fixed, but new issues seem to keep popping up.

Many federal lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats are frustrated with the ongoing problems on the federal health care exchange website.

And the health care exchange in New York State, has had its share of problems too, ranging from massive call volume slowing service when the exchange opened on Oct. 1 to a federal data crash this past Sunday.

For the past two days, the state health department says it couldn't verify citizenship and income of people applying for insurance. The data center feeds this type of information to New York and didn't come back on until Tuesday morning.

With the shutdown, insurance applications couldn't be processed. The state health department tells 2 On Your Side in a statement:

"During a period when the federal data service hub was/is down, New Yorkers could/can visit the NY State of Health website to learn more about the marketplace, estimate their eligibility for tax credits and view health plan networks and premiums," said Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Health.

Hammond adds that thousands of people will be able to get insurance in the New Year.

So far, only 20 percent of those who are eligible for a health care plan in New York have actually bought one. The numbers break down: 13,313 for a qualified health plan and 23,717 for Medicaid.

Federal health officials say they're working to address technical problems so states can effectively run their exchanges.

"Because of the what I consider the failures in the initial roll out, we felt we needed to bring on additional expertise, so we've brought that on," said Marilyn Tavenner, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is part of the U.S. Health Department.

The U.S. Department of Health says that by the end of November the federal health care exchange should be running smoothly. Enrollment to get insurance is now open until March 31.

A six week extension was issued so exchange issues can be fixed.

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