Almost one week after opening the state's health insurance exchange, officials with Covered California on Tuesday called the response "nothing short of phenomenal.''
At a morning news conference in Sacramento, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee reported that 16,311 households had completed applications for health insurance, while 27,305 others had established accounts and partially completed their applications.
"We started strong the first week,'' Lee said. "The response of consumers has underscored the demand.''
He said more than 978,000 individuals had visited the coveredca.com website, spending time and researching their options, while 59,000 calls were logged at two of the state's three call centers that are currently staffed.
Call waiting times that started out at about 30 minutes last Tuesday when the exchange rolled out were reduced to 15 minutes by mid-week and down to 4 minutes on Friday. On Saturday, he said, the average time was 30 seconds, which is Covered California's goal.
Lee also noted that 400 small businesses expressed interest in a special program designed for them that could offer tax credits.
"These big numbers are proof of the pent-up demand for coverage in California and also around the nation,'' said Lee, who emphasized that it's not about the numbers "but about the real people's lives that are being touched.''
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140. Follow her at Twitter.com/taseipel.