Mount Pleasant resident Dana Cutter, 44, tried for six days to log onto the new federal health insurance marketplace to compare health plan prices.
Then, he gave up on healthcare.gov.
“It's a comedy of errors, going through the whole experience,” said Cutter, a marketing manager for an insurance company.
The federal health insurance marketplace opened enrollment more than a week ago, but software issues with the website and higher-than-predicted Web traffic have made it difficult, at best, and impossible for most people who want to use the new platform to shop for insurance.
The federal government estimates more than 8 million people have tried to access the site since Oct. 1.
There's no way to estimate how many South Carolinians have been able to successfully shop for a policy because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week it will not release any enrollment data until next month.
Insurance companies offering plans for South Carolina residents to purchase through the marketplace have declined to provide any precise information about the number of policies sold this past week.
“Once the federal government site becomes fully functional we anticipate more people will actually purchase insurance,” said Patti Embry-Tautenhan, a spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.
Embry-Tautenhan said in a prepared statement that some customers have purchased an insurance plan, but mostly they're just browsing.
Enrollment through the marketplace is open until March 31. Coverage under plans purchased by Dec. 15 starts on Jan. 1.
The federal government shut down healthcare.gov briefly over the weekend and again early Tuesday morning to address some of these software kinks, but critics of “Obamacare” speculate that these aren't mere glitches.
“This idea that somehow there's just too much traffic … That's ridiculous. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,” said S.C. Medicaid Director Tony Keck. “They didn't have enough time. It was a fool's errand to try to get it done on time.”
The insurance marketplace, one of the major initiatives of the federal Affordable Care Act, launched last week amid a federal government shutdown, even though many industry insiders understood that the platform wasn't ready for the general public.
Cutter said he was eventually able to find some information about insurance prices offered through the marketplace, but after comparing the plans to his current policy, decided to stick with what he's already got.
“I just wanted to see how competitive it was,” he said.
Cutter, an independent voter, said he supports the Affordable Care Act, but his weeklong trial with the new marketplace left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I think it would have a lot more value and a lot more impact if the website actually worked,” he said. “I've got to believe if you were looking forward to health care and you're not an Obama supporter, this is not helping.”
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.
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