DENVER (CBS4) – Problems continue to plague the official federal website for consumers seeking health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Approximately 19 million people have visited site since Oct. 1 but only 500,000 have successfully applied for coverage.

It’s not known how long repairs will take, but Coloradans looking for health coverage through the ACA don’t need to use that federal site because Colorado has its own health exchange marketplace online. Two years ago the state Legislature passed a law setting up Connect for Health Colorado so state residents wouldn’t have to rely on the federal government. (If you are shopping for health insurance in Colorado it’s advisable not to go to the federal website.)

When Connect for Health Colorado launched Oct. 1, Peg Perl was among the first to log on.

“I had already navigated the maze of trying to figure out the insurance companies own websites and figured almost anything be better than that, but I was pleasantly surprised,” she said.

Unlike the federal site, Connect for Health Colorado has had a relatively smooth rollout.

“It has been up, it has stayed up and people have really been able to shop and compare pretty much 100 percent of time,” said Patty Fontneau, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado.

Fontneau admits people had problems initially setting up accounts, but on the site residents can shop anonymously without an account and get help by phone, online or in person from one of hundreds of specialists, free of charge.

“They will be able to guide you through and provide you with advice in terms of how you choose your health insurance,” Fontneau said.

There are up to 150 plans to choose from. You can narrow your search by coverage, premiums, deductibles and even doctors and then compare and contrast plans side by side.

“There’s even a button where can download the information into an Excel spreadsheet and just look at it offline and talk about it at the kitchen table,” said Perl. “I’m very happy that Colorado has been working on it and got in place, ready to go.”

Starting Tuesday the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education are launching a campaign called Got Insurance? to get the word out about Connect for Health Colorado.

More than 3000 families or individuals have enrolled for health insurance through the site so far. This year’s deadline to sign up for insurance without a penalty is Dec. 15.

If you are a Coloradan and you do go to the federal website, it will eventually kick you back to the state’s site.


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