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Available On Air Stations Still Swamped, Glitchy

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A larger-than-expected surge in interest as well as complex technology are being blamed for a “sluggish” start of the online Health Insurance Marketplace serving Florida and 35 other states on Tuesday. 

As Kaiser Health News reported Wednesday, the federal exchange at HealthCare.govdrew 4.7 million unique visits during its first 24 hours.

The demand has been seven times greater than officials had seen on comparable Medicare websites, according to the Tampa Tribune

The toll-free number also was swamped, with waiting times of 20-minutes or more, the Orlando Sentinelreports.

John Foley, an attorney for the “navigator” program at the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, said that his staff was at a standstill. “It’s a mess,” Foley said, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

But there’s a reason for the heavy interest: About one in four Florida adults under 65 is uninsured.

In West Palm Beach, more than 60 people turned out for a town hall meeting Tuesday to learn how to enroll for health insurance, according to the Palm Beach Post.  Many of those at the meeting said that they had not had health insurance for years. 

At another town hall meeting - this one in Jacksonville, Tuesday night - it became clear that many are still confused about the Affordable Care Act.  State Reps. Mia Jones and Reggie Fullword, Mayor Alvin Brown, and insurance representatives spent two hours answering questions from the audience, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Finally, Florida Blue’s Jacksonville headquarters had a busy day Tuesday.  As the only health insurer offering plans in all 67 Florida counties, the company expects to double the number of customers it serves over the next 12 to 15 months, the Jacksonville Business Journal reports. 

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.