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California website for Obamacare back up after 5-day outage

California website for Obamacare back up after 5-day outage
Marta Viera signs up for Obamacare at a Los Angeles clinic in November. The state's online enrollment system was back up Monday after an outage. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

California's enrollment website for Obamacare coverage was restored Monday after a five-day outage due to software problems.

The online troubles frustrated many consumers, enrollment counselors and insurance agents who wanted to use the Covered California website. The state had been signing up more than 7,000 people per day, on average, in February.

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The online enrollment system went down late Wednesday and the state continued to work on it throughout the weekend.

In a statement, Covered California attributed the website problem "to a software malfunction that occurred during a planned maintenance update on Sunday, Feb. 16."

The prolonged outage came at a bad time for the exchange as it tries to persuade more uninsured people to enroll before the March 31 deadline. Covered California launched new TV commercials and radio ads last week.

Sheila Kern of West Los Angeles tried applying online beginning in the middle of last week. Then she had trouble finding the names of local enrollment counselors on the state website.

"It was beyond outrageous. The entire website was basically down," Kern said.

Nahun Mancia, an insurance agent, had to use paper applications Sunday at an Obamacare enrollment event in Los Angeles.

He said he would have to spend hours later entering the information into the state's enrollment system.

"It's frustrating," Mancia said. "You're trying to do the best you can with what you have, but it's just not good enough."

Last week, Mancia said, he was filling out an online application with a consumer and the website stopped working halfway through. He had to start over on paper.

Through mid-February, Covered California has enrolled 828,638 people in private health plans as part of the Affordable Care Act.

California's website at coveredca.com has performed better than the federal exchange site, healthcare.gov, which had a disastrous launch in the fall.

But Covered California has experienced problems with hour-long wait times on the phone, faulty notices sent to applicants and an error-ridden physician directory that got pulled this month.

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