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Obamacare Marketplaces Overwhelmed By First-Day Rush

(Kate Kozeniewski, a certified Obamacare "navigator," works with Roderick Shichtel on his application for health insurance.  Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Kate Kozeniewski, a certified Obamacare “navigator,” works with Roderick Shichtel on his application for health insurance. Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first day of sign-up for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act has drawn so much traffic to the web site that it’s been virtually impossible to get through all day.

Even the advocates hired to help customers through the process were surprised at the initial response.

Resources for Human Development, one of the federally funded “navigator” agencies, was ready to begin signing people up at 9am in a West Philadelphia health center.  But, as elsewhere, they were stymied by an overwhelmed web site (healthcare.gov).

Assistant director Laura Line put the best face on it, saying that the level of interest was a good sign, and the slow web site not much of a problem.

“I think it’s slow because of the enthusiasm, so it’s the first day,” she said, adding, “If you want coverage for January 2014 you have from now until December 15th.”

Daniel Flynn visited the health center today, eager to see his new options. With two part-time jobs that don’t provide insurance, he buys a private policy with high deductibles and co-pays.

“I’m hoping that the marketplace has lower premiums but then also better coverage for us and better cost-sharing options,” he said before finding out that the process was having first-day difficulties.

Flynn promised to return another day — before December 15th.

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