Despite the federal government shutdown, the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act opened on schedule, and at least in New York, enthusiasm for the new law was high. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the state's health insurance marketplace, nystateofhealth.ny.gov, went live.
"In the first hour and a half this morning, we received over 2 million hits on our website," said New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales.
The unexpected response to the launch caused issues with the login function. Exchange officials advised potential customers to go back to the site later.
"It was a little slower than we would have liked, certainly, but we're on it, and we are committed to serving everyone who comes to our doors," said Danielle Holahan, deputy director of New York State of Health.
More than 1 million uninsured New Yorkers are expected to get coverage through the exchange.
Consumers who previously bought plans on the individual market saw premiums as high as $1,300 a month. Through the exchange, that rate will drop, on average, 53 percent.
"We estimate that three-quarters of the individuals that will enroll will also be eligible for this financial assistance, which will lower the cost of their plans even further," Holahan said.
The exchange offers plans from 16 different insurers and 10 dental plans.
NY1 spoke to residents in Jamaica, many of whom seemed excited about the new options available.
"Everyone needs to have insurance," said one person.
"I'm a nursing staff. I work with an agency sometimes, and I don't have insurance," said another. "I think this is a way for people to get very good health insurance."
Many, though, are still unsure about how to sign up.
"I do not know how it works," said one person.
"I've got to go on the Internet and see what really, it's all about," said another.
With its launch, New York State of Health also began its ad campaign.
"It's on television. It's in print. It's out of home. It's digital," Holahan said. "So if people haven't seen New York State of Health yet, they will."
Holahan said that the web portal was designed to be user-friendly. Instead of a long form, customers will simply have to answer a series of questions.
For people who still need help, there are customer service specialists reachable through the call center at 855-355-5777. You can also find your local navigator online and make an in-person appointment.