The GOP’s main nightmare began to come true on the first day of the shutdown, which coincided with the first day that the state and federal exchanges under Obamacare opened for business. The desperation to defund the law with the hope of stopping it through chicanery, having failed to do so legitimately, is driven by the GOP’s fear that the public will like it once they have actually experienced it.
Many states experienced glitches caused by excessive traffic both on their web sites and on the phone lines set up to assist people to sign up with their purchase. Right wing “news” organizations claimed that this was due to a lack of readiness and is more “evidence” that the law will not work.
In the first three hours, the national web site, Healthcare.gov, received one million visitors, five times as many visitors as the Medicare.gov site has ever had in total. By 3:45 in the afternoon, there had been 2.8 million visits as well as another 81,000 who had called the telephone hotline for information.
The state exchanges are experiencing similar activity. In California, the state exchange logged it’s first enrollment at 8:45 a.m. PST with many people tweeting that they were impressed with the ease of use they had experienced on the site. Officials say that the site is seeing 10,000 hits every second.
In Colorado, where the exchange opened at 8:00 a.m. MST, they had logged over 34,500 unique visitors by 11:00 a.m. And 1,300 residents had created accounts — the first step in purchasing a policy through the system.
In Connecticut where the exchange experienced glitches early in the day, they had the site up and running and had signed up the first 764 applicants by 9:30, “For a site that’s been up for 25 minutes, it’s not bad,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the New Insurance Marketplace. By 11:30 the site had recorded 10,000 visits with another 17,000 phone inquiries by 2:00 p.m.
In Florida there were long lines at clinics as low-income potential applicants lined up to find out about their options for health care, and in Illinois 42,000 had visited the exchange by noon.
In Kentucky, the only Southern state which is participating fully in the exchanges and Medicaid expansion, by 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday the exchange had logged 24,000 visits and processed 1,000 applications with another 1,000 coming in by the afternoon.
In New York, where there are approximately 2.6 million uninsured, there were 2 million visits within the first two hours.
Rhode Island resident Annabelle Leigh tweeted of the exchange, “Rhode Island site working fine. So many choices at so many price points! Something 4 everyone. I’m ecstatic.”