Health Exchange Acknowledges Slowdowns, Snarls; Promises Improvements in Key Customer Support Areas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California is enhancing components of its customer service by increasing staff to answer consumer calls, adding phone lines, improving its website efficiency, expanding its live Web chat function and upgrading its Spanish-language Web pages.

The system improvements are in response to a flurry of signups in the new state health exchange over the past two months and in preparation for even stronger consumer interest as the March 31 enrollment deadline approaches.

Covered California is implementing its upgrade to customer service operations to address key performance issues. The refinements will continue through the end of open enrollment, March 31.

“We want Californians to know we hear them,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We understand that some have been struggling with our current system, and we are committed to making sure that everyone who wants health care coverage can get the enrollment support they need, get their questions answered and get the coverage they deserve for themselves and their families.”

A large-scale hiring wave is now under way to add 350 Covered California Service Center representatives by the end of March, including more bilingual staff. As part of that expansion, more than 250 new representatives began training at the Fresno Service Center today, including 28 representatives who are Spanish speaking.

Covered California is also dedicating more Service Center representatives to its live Web chat function, available in English and Spanish; expanding phone line capacity; and adding self-service online tools, such as the ability to reset passwords and change user names.

Consumers calling the Service Center will notice changes to the recorded message on the main phone number: Answers to Covered California’s most frequently asked questions are now available. Additionally, recorded messages are now available in Spanish from start to finish.  

Covered California will post subsidy-eligible applications in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean languages on its website. Consumers can also use a search tool to find information, including frequently asked questions.

The exchange also launched dedicated support phone lines for its Certified Enrollment Counselors and, this week, will establish a dedicated support phone line for licensed Certified Insurance Agents.

“California is the leader in getting its residents signed up for health care coverage, and, while we are overjoyed at the numbers of people coming to our doors, we acknowledge that we need to do a better job of helping them through the enrollment process,” Lee said. “These improvements are based on our lessons learned in the first months after Covered California’s historic launch and our pledge to building an outstanding customer service system for many years ahead.”

About Covered California

Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit

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