Hawaii insurance marketplace launches with plans

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s health insurance marketplace under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul began offering plans for sale on Tuesday, more than two weeks after the start of open enrollment.

Hawaii Health Connector Executive Director Coral Andrews said at a news conference that consumers can now review and buy plans offered on the exchange’s website.

“We heard from you — we know you’ve been anxious to get up and running,” Andrews said.

The opening comes after more than two weeks of trying to fix technical problems that rendered the site unable to display plans and prices. That left consumers unable to shop, despite a variety of plans — 95 across four tiers — previously approved by Hawaii insurance officials.

The delay caused some people without insurance to go directly to insurance companies, which offered the same plans without the ability to check for tax subsidies and other rebates.

Consumers were able to give basic information in an application like their name and address, with more than 1,200 users submitting applications on the first day. Connector officials have said the site has been getting about 30,000 unique visits per day, with more than 400 calls per day.

Minutes after the midday news conference, the connector posted a Facebook update saying it was experiencing a high volume of traffic.

“We’re working to address the issue. Mahalo,” the update said.

Andrews says connector employees will manually process initial applications that came in before the plans went live on the site.

She declined to give an estimate of how many applications were part of the backlog but said initial applicants would be contacted within the next few days.

The vendor that helped build the connector, CGI Group Inc., signed a four-year, $53 million deal earlier this year.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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