With the Monday night deadline looming for people to buy private insurance in the healthcare exchanges made possible under the Affordable Care Act, Maryland officials are looking to scrap their troubled website. According to Fox News, the state’s system has been plagued with computer problems since it went live on Oct. 1. Officials hope to replace the website, which has cost the state $125.5 million, with a new site before the exchanges open again in November.
Under the Affordable Care Act — sometimes referred to as Obamacare — states were allowed to either use the federal website, Healthcare.gov, or build their own exchanges. Maryland was one of several states that opted to build its own. State officials had hoped that the website could handle the goal of 150,000 private enrollments by the March 31 deadline. Problems with the technology have made that impossible. Only 49,293 have been able to enroll in Maryland.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said on Friday that state officials will announce plans for a new system later this week. He admitted there were still problems with the current system going into the final days of the current open enrollment period.
“We still have stuck applications. We still wrestle with it every day,” O'Malley said. “The clock was ticking, and we have been changing the flat tires on this rolling car for the last five, going on six months now. And it has gotten better with every new fix applied to it, [but it is] still not working as it was supposed to work.”
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The Washington Post reports that the state board in charge of the exchange is expected to vote on Tuesday to replace the current system with technology that has been used more successfully in nearby Connecticut. Maryland’s 49,293 enrollees represent a 9 percent enrollment rate of those eligible. By contrast Connecticut has enrolled more than 26 percent, making it among the most successful in the country.
Peter Beilenson, the founder of Evergreen Health Co-op, has explored Connecticut’s website.
“It’s really fast,” he said. “It seems to work really smoothly.”