Opening Month Numbers Indicate Intense Interest in Calif. Exchange

by David Gorn

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Covered California yesterday released its total number of calls and Internet inquiries for the first four weeks of the opening enrollment period for the state's health benefit exchange. The numbers were impressive.

Open enrollment began Oct. 1 at Covered California. According to figures released yesterday:

  • The exchange had 2,154,572 "unique visits" on its website. The number of "hits" on a site is much higher than its unique visits. When someone accesses the site multiple times, it still only counts as one unique visit, because it's from the same Internet provider address. It's still possible that some people have accessed the site from multiple computers, but it's a solid indication that millions of Californians have logged onto the Covered California site in its first month.
  • The three Covered California call centers logged 210,061 phone calls with an average duration of more than 15 minutes a call.
  • 179,562 applications to join the exchange have been started.
  • The average wait time for a phone representative dropped toward the end of the month. During the first week of open enrollment, some callers complained that it took too long to get through to the call centers. The average wait time for the first four weeks of October was about 4½ minutes, but the average wait time during the fourth week of October fell to about 3½ minutes.
  • The exchange yesterday also released numbers on the assisters, who will help Californians enroll in Covered California. Officials said 619 counselors have been certified to help people enroll, with more than another 4,000 certifications in the approval process. Over 3,000 insurance agents have been certified, with another 16,000 of them in the application process. More than 10,000 county workers also have been trained in enrollment protocol.

"The response to Covered California has been nothing short of phenomenal," said Covered California executive director Peter Lee in his most recent blog posting. "We had more than 94,000 applications started during our first two weeks. … That's undeniable proof of the pent-up demand among Californians for quality, affordable health care. It's proof that Californians want peace of mind, and want to be a part of history."


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