Health law sign-ups hit snag on big weekend

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers trying to sign up for health insurance ahead of a looming deadline are getting snagged by technical difficulties, the Obama administration said Saturday.

Administration spokeswoman Katie Hill said some people trying to get coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law haven't been able to get their income information electronically verified.

That's crucial because the amount of financial assistance to help pay premiums is based on people's income. The health care law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don't have coverage on the job. More than 8 in 10 of those who apply qualify for help. Without it, most can't afford the coverage.

The Internal Revenue Service handles income verification for the HealthCare.gov website. In a statement, Hill said the problem was due to issues with "external verification sources."

The glitch seemed to be affecting people with new applications.

People who previously submitted their income details — but hadn't completed the final step of picking a plan — were still able to do so.

The technical problems tied up some consumers who'd come out Saturday to an enrollment event in the central Illinois city of Jacksonville.

"They were frustrated, but they were nice about it," said Miranda Clark, who was helping people sign up. "They can come back tomorrow or call ... or log back into their account and do it on their own."

Officials posted an advisory on the home page of the HealthCare.gov website.

It reassured consumers that they would still be able to get coverage once the glitch is resolved. "Keep checking back for updates," it said.

The official deadline in the 37 states served by HealthCare.gov is 2:59 a.m. Eastern time Monday.

Last year, HealthCare.gov stumbled at the start. Numerous technical problems with the website were a huge headache for consumers, and an embarrassment for the tech-savvy White House. This year, the process had worked fairly smoothly.

The administration has set a goal of 9.1 million people signed up and paying their premiums in 2015.

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Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson in Chicago contributed to this report.