AL residents report technical issues with new healthcare exchang - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

AL residents report technical issues with new healthcare exchange website

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Alabama's federally facilitated online healthcare marketplace went live Tuesday morning and many users reported technical issues with the website hosted on healthcare.gov.

Many users complained that the registration process to set up an account didn't work properly. Numerous Facebook users reported on the WSFA 12 News page that when they reached the section to fill out the answers to several security questions, the fields did not display any text.

Other users reported wait times to log on and register in excess of three hours and once they registered, the website would at times crash.

The president acknowledged during a speech Tuesday that the exchanges could be inundated by individuals looking to purchase health insurance.

Several Facebook users wrote that they had no problem with the website and even saved money on new plans. One user even called the new marketplace, "awesome."

Some users were far more critical of the online marketplace and the glitches that they encountered. One said that the exchange wasn't ready and that the government didn't do enough beta testing before it was rolled out. Another Facebook visitor to the WSFA 12 News page was far more blunt calling the new exchange, "is a joke and so is Obama."

Open enrollment for the individuals and families to purchase health insurance is what started Tuesday. People without insurance have until March 2014 to enroll on the exchange or risk facing a fine. If someone wants to be covered by the beginning of 2014, they would have to enroll by the middle of December.

Alabama's healthcare marketplace is being run by the federal government because the state's governor opted not to participate in any facet of the law last November.

One of Gov. Robert Bentley's first acts when he entered office was to assemble a commission to explore the idea of an online health insurance exchange and provide recommendations. The commission later returned a report containing recommendations as to how the state should create an exchange.

Gov. Bentley chose to ignore the report, paving the way for the federal government to run Alabama's exchange.

The Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, the agency in charge of implementing the federal healthcare law, warned that the federally facilitated exchanges may not be fully functional without glitches for several months.

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