'Strong start' to Colorado health marketplace

By Jakob Rodgers Published: October 20, 2013 | 1:10 pm 0

People looking for a coverage plan through Colorado's new health insurance marketplace have until March 31 to purchase a plan.

More than a couple of hundred people decided not to wait.

On Monday, Connect for Health Colorado officials released a snapshot of the marketplace's first week, announcing 226 insurance plans sold from Oct. 1 through Oct. 7, covering 305 people.

Marketplace officials set a goal of 136,000 enrollments by the end of 2014 - in other words, the marketplace's first two open enrollment periods.

"It was a strong start," said Ben Davis, a marketplace spokesman. "A lot of folks are focused on enrollments, but purchasing insurance is very different than other types of Internet shopping.

"We've always expected consumers to take their time."

Davis said he was particularly pleased that 18,174 accounts were created.

"That's a very strong number and a much better indicator on how successful this effort's going to be," Davis said.

The marketplace was created after passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It operates separately from the federal government's health care exchange, because Colorado lawmakers opted to create the state's own market.

A rush of traffic Oct. 1 caused marketplace officials to briefly suspend the creation of new accounts - a key means for people to buy health care. The problem lasted a few hours, but few problems have been reported since then.

In all, the website logged 162,941 unique visitors in the marketplace's first week.

The website was available 97.25 percent of the time from Oct. 1 through Oct. 7, according to the statement, and web pages appeared within five seconds about 98 percent of the time that people visited the site.

The marketplace's two customer service centers - the largest of which is in Colorado Springs - have been busy.

The centers logged 9,658 calls and online chat sessions with people who had questions about the marketplace.

Callers had to wait an average of five minutes and 44 seconds to connect with someone, though a third of the calls were answered within 20 seconds, the statement said.

Each call lasted an average of 13 minutes and 15 seconds.

Shoppers have until Dec. 15 to buy a plan that begins Jan. 1, and open enrollment closes March 31.

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