RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — Covered California began enrolling millions of uninsured Californians on Tuesday through a busy website and call centers.

California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act opened with hundreds of representatives ready to take calls in Rancho Cordova.

“It is a marathon, and not a sprint,” said Diana Dooley with the California Health and Human Services Agency. “We are at the starting line.”

And it was a big start, with more than 9,000 calls rolling in from people wanting to know what plan is right for them.

People like Debra Bunker, who works part-time after a back injury and cancer, and doesn’t have health insurance.

“The doctor had put me down to so many hours a day, and now I can’t get back on full-time, so medical is a big issue,” she said.

Before calling, officials say you should know how much you make, your age, and how many people you need covered in your home.

If you’re planning to get covered by Jan. 1, you need to enroll by Dec. 14.

Bunker is hoping to sign up sooner than later to make sure her health care is covered.

“Everybody in the world is going to be trying to get on here to figure it out,” she said.

So CBS13 sat down with Bunker on the first day of Covered California enrollment to see how things would go.

When she called, the phone prompt said it would take at least half an hour. We waited longer than that.

“The battery might run dead,” Bunker said after being on hold for a while.

She ended up plugging in her phone during the wait, which ended up being an hour.

The website was a different story. After two hours, long after CBS13’s cameras had left, Bunker was able to set up an account.

On the plus side, she’ll qualify for free health care.

As for the long wait, she is cutting Covered California some slack, figuring there are plenty of people like her calling on the first day.

“You can’t get upset about something like that,” she said. “Especially when it is new and everybody in the world is going to be on here trying to figure it out.”

Covered California plans to add more bandwidth and phone representatives to cover the rush of people trying to sign up.


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