Affordable Care Act
4:16 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

RI Health Exchange Gets Off to a Bumpy Start

A crush of users caused the HealthSource RI website to temporarily crash Tuesday morning.  HealthSource RI, Rhode Island’s answer to Obamacare, is an online marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses can buy health insurance. 

HealthSource RI received 4,000 calls in the first hour of business.  During that same time frame, 6,000 people were checking out the HealthSource RI website every minute. It was too much for the system to take.

Operators in Providence took hundreds of calls on the launch day of HealthSource RI.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Joe Giblin, a freelance photographer from North Kingstown, said he looked at a white screen for two hours before the health insurance website appeared.

“It seemed to not be ready. That was kind of the disappointing thing,” said Giblin. “They had to expect a high volume this morning and they didn’t seem to be quite prepared for that.”

Exchange spokesman Ian Lang said the computer glitch was ironed out before noon after technicians expanded capacity. Gov. Lincoln Chafee toured the Health Source RI office Tuesday afternoonand said he was impressed. “It’s smooth so far. Calls are being answered,” said Chafee, “the staff is adequate to the demand. There’s a reason that health care wasn’t passed in the ’90’s. It’s complicated. It’s not easy.”

Exchange officials estimate that between 70,000 and 100,000 people will get coverage through the exchange by the end of next year. About 124,000 Rhode Islanders are uninsured.

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