NCW — If you tried to log onto the state’s new Health Benefits Exchange to look for health insurance this morning, you may have been out of luck.
Residents across the state and the nation experienced difficulties as the plans offered under the new Affordable Care Act were unveiled.
State officials said they’re investigating the cause, and placed the site on “maintenance mode” to identify and correct the problems.
National reports indicate 36 states were experiencing technical difficulties, due to the high volume of internet traffic. No reports are blaming the shutdown of the federal government for the problems.
As of 9 a.m., residents trying to sign up on their own were having trouble logging on to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange through www.WAhealthplanfinder.org.
Once it’s operational, the exchange will allow individuals, families and businesses with fewer than 50 employees to go online and explore, compare or sign up for a new health insurance plan.
Residents can also get help from an in-person assister, or certified health insurance broker.
At Columbia Valley Community Health, where in-person assisters are trained to help people sign up, people can still stop by the stations and view plans today, but will have to come back to provide an “e-signature” when the website is back up, said Sarah Wilkins, the clinic’s communications coordinator.
“We can take all of their information, but they might have to do a followup once the website’s working again,” she said this morning.
People who don’t want to come back may want to wait, she added.
In-person assistance is available at Columbia Valley’s clinics in Wenatchee and Chelan; at Family Health Centers in Oroville, Tonasket, Okanogan and Brewster; and at Quincy Community Health.
State officials say the new system will offer people an easier way to find a plan that fits their budget. Individuals earning up to $45,960, or a family of four making up to $94,200 will qualify for reduced premiums.
Once the website is operational, people signing up for themselves at home can get support by calling 1-855-WAFINDER, or 855-923-4633.