NY health care website slammed by 30 million hits; state monitoring for any attack, protest

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ALBANY, N.Y. – New York’s website to allow the uninsured to shop for health insurance under the nation’s new health care law has struggled under the surge of nearly 30 million hits in two days.

New York has just 2.7 million uninsured residents, so state officials are trying to figure out why their website has attracted more hits than in any other state.

State Department of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore said the agency doubled the website’s capacity after users experienced delays and other difficulties entering.

New York is constantly monitoring the website for “robots” which could inundate the system as a protest or as a way to disrupt the health care program. But no evidence has been found. The department said evidence of an attack or protest could be seen immediately.

Republicans in Washington have rejected Democratic demands to vote on legislation ending a partial government shutdown without changes to the health care law.

Although more than 30 million hits were recorded by Wednesday evening, just 12,000 have entered the system and supplied information that is expected to lead to purchasing insurance, Frescatore said.

Many of the 30 million hits may reflect several visits by the same person over two days. Many may also simply be gleaning general information and may apply later. Still others could be from another state, but employed by a company based in New York. The state is looking to streamline the process so people can shop faster and not be “timed out” by the site.

Frescatore urged New Yorkers not to be discouraged if they are blocked or slowed in their use of the website. She noted applicants have six months to enrol and applications as late as December can result in insurance coverage on Jan. 1, the earliest date for coverage.

“The state’s customer service centre operators have provided information to and answered questions from more than 9,000 New Yorkers,” she said. “Today, like all other states, New York’s website is experiencing significant levels of activity, which is causing some users to experience difficulty entering the site and delays in application processing.”

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