Health insurance website down again

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The website www.healthcare.gov was down for several hours Friday morning. The government said work was necessary following an error in routine maintenance overnight. This comes as the deadline approaches on Monday for enrolling in coverage effective January 1.

"The system is down at the moment." That was the message on the website. Moments turned into several hours Friday as Cielo Fernandez, a counselor at El Centro, hoped to help clients select insurance at healthcare.gov.

"We cannot complain. I mean, the system has been working," said Fernandez.

It was restored late morning, though with delays because of high volume. Monday is the deadline for enrollment for coverage starting January 1. Leah Varela had hoped to have coverage then.

"I'm the mom, single mom. My daughters need me, need me healthy," said Varela.

But she has hit another type of glitch. She's married, but separated, and healthcare.gov doesn't account for that.

"They think about the single (or) married together," said Varela.

The government won't okay Varela for a subsidy unless it has her husband's income information which she can't get. Fernandez has helped her file an appeal to try to get the subsidy based on her income only.

"Well, it's a little bit difficult," said Varela of the process. She has no idea when or if she'll get coverage.

Fernandez says enrolling by Monday is important for people who have health problems and know they'll have medical bills soon. But she tells healthy people to take their time choosing a plan.

"If someone has a preferred doctor, if somebody has a hospital they like to go to, then they should look in that part of the plans," said Fernandez.

She says look at the drug coverage, the deductible and co-pays. The uninsured have until March 31 to get coverage and avoid the tax penalty.

Insurers say after you enroll at healthcare.gov, call your insurer to make sure it's received your enrollment, and check on your payment deadline for January 1 coverage. Coventry's payment deadline is January 10 while Blue KC's is January 7.

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