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Challenges on last day of enrollment through health insurance exchange

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Updated: 4/14 2:39 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- In Nevada, the enrollment process  wasn't much smoother  through Nevada Health Link. People trying to sign up through the exchange Monday dealt with slow service and long wait times. 

Adding to the the deadline confusion, the site showed that open enrollment had closed at 5 p.m. News 3 received a screen shot of the posting.

Nevada Health Link's CJ Bawden says the problem was identified on Sunday, and the site was shutdown twice to fix the problem. But the message "Open enrollment is closed" appeared Monday afternoon for just under an hour before it was fixed by Xerox, the company that operates the exchange.

Slowness was another challenge. Imagine a half an hour trip that ends up taking taking three hours. That was what it was like for people trying to use Nevada Health Link Monday.

"The website is extremely slow," said insurance broker Cesar Vinasco at Branch Benefits Consultants.

Vinasco was with one client for three hours.

"Today what's really is happening, just a slow process across the table, since the beginning to the end," Vinasco said.

Alba Benitez says she waited until the last minute because of confusion on whether she needed to enroll or not, as she's not a U.S. citizen yet, but since she has a work permit and a social security number, she wants to comply.

"Because I want to be able to go to whatever hospital or whatever emergency. We would not be able to because it's so much money. And I feel very happy and that I'm obeying the law of this country, which is the most important thing," Benitez said.

This is the first time she has health insurance, and she can't wait to start using it. But she had to wait all morning Monday to finish the process. Vinasco found the sign up to be frustrating.

"It's a joke. This was a joke," Vinasco said.

Every page submitted took between two to five minutes to process; there are several dozen pages required. But Benitez is now enrolled and paid, and ready to keep on top of her health.

Because of the problems from the exchange website since it went live in October, a special enrollment period has been extended.

It starts April 1 and runs through the end of May; only those who attempted to enroll and were unable to finish because of the glitches are eligible. They would need to be recognized in the system through an ID number.

Nevada Health Link says to avoid a pro-rated penalty, registrants need to pay by April 15.

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