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Connecticut's Insurance Website Struggles At Opening

Today is the day the uninsured can sign up for insurance on Connecticut's new health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act. But technical glitches have hampered the rollout.

Kevin Counihan is pretty good at managing expectations. He's the head of Access Health CT, the agency that runs the state's new health insurance marketplace.

He's got his eyes on 2016 and beyond. By then, he says, we'll be able to judge whether the health care overhaul has succeeded.

So, for him, Oct. 1 may be exciting, but it's not all that telling.

"I consider this Day One in a three-year enrollment period," Counihan said. "So I think it's sort of a nice metaphor for launching a major social program. But, frankly, in the big picture, it doesn't have a lot of value."

And it might be a good idea for him to focus on the long term. Because, in the short term, the agency's website for enrolling — accesshealthct.com — has been glitchy at best, and offline at worst.

Shortly after 9:00 a.m., Counihan said the website was live, that there had been more than 100,000 page visits, and that, by 9:30, someone had already enrolled.

But throughout the morning, it was nearly impossible to get the website to load. Counihan's agency took to Twitter to explain. One tweet read, "Our website is up now, please try reloading." Another said, "We appreciate your patience as we continue to launch our systems today. Don't forget, you have till Dec. 15 to enroll for Jan. 1 coverage."

The website will eventually work consistently. And when it does, that's when the truly complicated work of enrolling the uninsured will begin in earnest.

This story is part of a collaboration among NPR, Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network and Kaiser Health News.

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wnpr.org.

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