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A Tale Of Two HealthCare.gov Users


In a Brooklyn restaurant earlier this week, the owner was looking for a new health insurance plan. The lunch rush had faded, so Chelsea Altman settled into her computer and logged in to Healthcare.gov, the new troubled health care website.

CHELSEA ALTMAN: I'm shopping for myself and my two kids.


Her children are eight and six. Their current insurance expires at the end of next month. We listen in now as Chelsea Altman tries to enroll in new coverage, the first of two efforts we have in this part of the program.

ALTMAN: It's been now - we started at 1:47, right? And it's 2:10.

GREENE: So more than 20 minutes for Chelsea Altman just to register. Healthcare.gov first rerouted her to a New York health care website. These state-run efforts are supposed to be doing better than the ones run by the federal government.

INSKEEP: Even so, Chelsea Altman thought the online process was taking too long so she called the helpline.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: To receive information about applying for health insurance, press one. For information...

GREENE: And she waited. After four minutes on hold an operator answered.

ALTMAN: Hi. I've been trying to apply online and see what health insurance I can get. But I'm running into a lot of glitches in the system. Hello? Hello?


ALTMAN: Oh, my God. No one is there.

INSKEEP: So Chelsea Altman called again and was forwarded to a voicemail box. She has not yet been called back.

GREENE: Now, in Georgia, Kimberly Cartier has also gone to Healthcare.gov to get new health insurance. Her first try was the first day the website was available.

KIMBERLY CARTIER: I literally got up about 4:30, quarter to five...


CARTIER: ...to actually begin to log onto the process. I thought it will be quick and simple.

INSKEEP: Wasn't quick, wasn't simple. Kimberly Cartier would try again and again. She lives in Allenwood just outside of Atlanta, is self-employed and has an existing health condition.

GREENE: She hasn't been able to find insurance for less than $650 a month. So she's gone without for the past five years. Last week, Kimberly Cartier returned to the website once more.

CARTIER: I was sitting in my office and I said for kicks and giggles, let me just log on. And low and behold...


CARTIER: ...I was able to get online and request a quote.

INSKEEP: And Kimberly Cartier enrolled in one of the offered plans.

CARTIER: I will be insured as of January the First.


GREENE: One success amid the struggles with the government's new health care website.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.