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Wash. State’s Obamacare Exchange Site Down Again With New Tech Issues

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(Photo credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (AP) — The website for Washington’s health insurance exchange was down again Monday with new technical issues after problems last week took the site off line for four days.

Problems at the Washington Department of Social and Health Services forced wahealthplanfinder.org to shut down Monday morning, said Bethany Frey, spokeswoman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the website and the program.

The health services agency was having problems with its own system that helps determine whether people are eligible for free or reduced-cost insurance. Without the DSHS site, the health insurance site can’t process applications, Frey said.

The health benefit exchange site came back online Saturday morning after four days of maintenance for other technical problems. Frey said the site was working fine over the weekend and the new problems are unrelated.

“I’m still working with my IT team to get an analysis to see what the issues were,” she said.

Washington residents have until Dec. 23 to sign up and pay for health insurance through the exchange if they want to be insured on Jan. 1. Uninsured people have until the end of March to enroll in some kind of health insurance and avoid paying a fine when they file their federal income taxes.

About 61,000 Washington residents have signed up for private insurance through the state’s new health care exchange since it opened on Oct. 1. As of last week, 43,000 of them still needed to finish enrolling by paying for their new health coverage that is set to begin in January.

State officials said another 150,000 Washington residents have signed up for free insurance through Medicaid.

Before health care reform went into effect, an estimated 1 million Washington residents did not have health insurance.

Officials at the exchange are expecting a spike in completed enrollments in December. Their goal is to have 130,000 people buy private insurance in time to have coverage on Jan. 1.

In addition to enrolling online, Washington residents can sign up for health insurance in person, on the phone or by contacting an insurance agent or broker.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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