GREEN BAY - The government shutdown did not stop a key launch in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The six month enrollment period opened Tuesday for the new health care exchanges. There were some glitches.
Green Bay health insurance agent Diane Woodhead was one of millions seeing a "please wait" message while trying to browse the new online health care marketplace.
“The web site is slow,” said Woodhead. “It needs a couple of days to calm down and everybody to get in there and look through plans.”
Health officials say by Tuesday afternoon, 2.8 million people visited healthcare.gov.
“I have a list of people already to contact as soon as we can get the web site really functioning well,” said Woodhead.
Anyone with sufficient insurance through an employer or Medicare doesn't need to worry about logging onto the new marketplace.
About 700,000 Wisconsin residents are expected to shop for a plan.
If you don't have insurance by January, you'll face a penalty. The penalty is $95 per adult, $47.50 per child or 1% of the family income if that total is greater.
“It is law and it is in effect, so let’s learn how to navigate that system and make it work for people,” said Woodhead.
Wisconsin is receiving the lowest amount of federal funding to educate and advertise the healthcare reforms to the public, about 46 cents per resident compared to the national average of $2.37.
“I think Wisconsin has really taken a different approach, really working on the grassroots level with our regional enrollment networks and really working to get information out to our partners in the trusted services in the community where people go to get information,” said Claire Smith, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
There are counselors and agents, like Woodhead, trained to help people with the new marketplace, although, getting help isn't a requirement.
“If you're comfortable buying auto insurance online, you will be comfortable with this,” said Woodhead.
Woodhead reminds everyone to be patient, especially if the first day's traffic count is any indication.
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