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Hawaii health exchange website has rough start on first day

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 11:56 p.m. HST, Oct 15, 2013

Hawaii's health insurance exchange had a rough start on its first day of allowing consumers to enroll in medical coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The Hawaii Health Connector website was working after noon Tuesday, showing plan options with prices for the first time. But by 1 p.m., visitors to the home page,, received a one-line message: "This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again."

"We're currently experiencing high traffic to our site," the Connector announced on Twitter, requesting people contact the call center for assistance. "We're working to address the issue."

About a half hour later, the website was working again.

Hawaii Health Connector officials had said Monday that the online marketplace would be operational with 95 plans available for people to compare and purchase by late morning.

The website was scheduled to allow consumers to shop for health plans two weeks ago, but it was not ready for the Oct. 1 launch because of computer problems.

Coral Andrews, executive director of the nonprofit Connector, held an early-afternoon press conference to discuss details of the marketplace created by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"This is a big milestone for the Hawaii Health Connector," Andrews said Tuesday. "For me personally, this has been a personal commitment of mine. The Hawaii Health Connector has now gone live around 10:30 this morning. It's a giant leap forward."

As of last week Hawaii was the only state in the nation that had not made prices and policies available to consumers via an exchange website.

The health reform law requires most citizens to get health coverage next year or face tax penalties.

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