SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Officials with California’s health insurance exchange on Thursday clarified the level of initial interest shown in the website, saying more than 514,000 people visited the online marketplace on its first day.
Covered California spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said those individual visitors showed a high level of interest in the exchange.
The website had more than 5 million page views Tuesday, when exchanges opened for enrollment nationwide, he said. That was the official figure reported to media outlets until the number of unique visitors was announced.
Exchange officials clarified the numbers after conflicting media reports began to surface.
“No matter how you count it, we had an enormous amount of interest,” Hidalgo said.
In addition, the state’s service centers in Concord and the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova received 19,000 telephone calls Tuesday. A third service center will open in Fresno sometime in November.
Hidalgo said the exchange is planning to release figures for the first week of operations next Wednesday, although enrollment data is not expected to be available until mid-November.
The enrollment portion of the website went offline from Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning to fix several technical issues with web browser compatibility and problems with health plan logos displaying incorrectly. Online enrollment has not been disrupted since those issues were resolved, Hidalgo said.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, virtually all Americans will be required to have health insurance beginning in 2014 or they must pay an annual penalty to the government.
Californians who have health coverage through an employer will be largely unaffected by the opening of the insurance exchange, which is primarily for the poor, low-income earners, and individuals and families who already buy their own health insurance.
California accounts for about 15 percent of the nation’s uninsured people. About 5.3 million Californians are eligible for coverage under the new health law, about 1.4 million of them through expanded access to the state’s health insurance program for the poor, called Medi-Cal.
Consumers seeking health insurance on the exchange must enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage to begin Jan. 1.