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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

October 30, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Federal hub outage brings down Washington Healthplanfinder

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Washington Healthplanfinder website had been down for more than 24 hours and officials could not say when it would be back online.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the Healthplanfinder, took down the website at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, citing an outage at the Federal Data Services Hub.

The federal hub accesses federal and state records to determine eligibility for coverage and for tax credits through the online insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act.

“Without access to the hub, the Washington Healthplanfinder is unable to determine eligibility and tax credit information for individuals seeking coverage,” spokesman Michael Marchand wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

The exchange posted a message on its “status center” page that “Washington Healthplanfinder continues to be temporarily unavailable due to a federal data services outage. We will post updates to the status center as they become available. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.”

The Healthplanfinder website was also down on Sunday because of an earlier outage.

Marchand said exchange officials did not know when the current outage was expected to end.

“The latest update that we have received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is that the network problem with their contractor Verizon Terremark is still impacting CMS and other customers on the network and the Marketplace continues to be down,” said Marchand. “We have not been made aware of when these network issues will be resolved.”

In the meantime, Washington Healthplanfinder is still processing enrollments submitted through paper applications.

Paper applications were used during an enrollment event Wednesday in Vancouver, said exchange spokeswoman Bethany Frey.

The Healthplanfinder mobile enrollment bus, which has been touring the state for the past two weeks, spent several hours at the Vancouver Community Library, where in-person assisters were on-hand to help people enroll.

“We had tremendous interest, with many people filling out paper applications, making future appointments or talking with us and taking information home,” Frey said.

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