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Two weeks after opening its doors, the state insurance marketplace announced today that nearly 1.6 million individual visitors had come to its online portal and more than 104,000 customers called into its service center through Saturday.

Covered California began enrolling customers on Oct. 1 for insurance plans that start Jan. 1. Average wait times at call centers improved significantly - to less than two minutes from 15 minutes - and roughly 94,500 applications were started at CoveredCA.com through Saturday.

Last week, Executive Director Peter V. Lee said he wasn't inclined to release data so early but began doing so to counter persistent criticism of the agency's initial performance.

The state health insurance exchange also has made progress on certifying those tasked with enrolling new customers - although in some cases not as quickly as officials wanted. The agency reported certified 279 enrollment counselors, 1,295 insurance agents and 5,287 county eligibility workers in the first 12 days.

Some 3,824 enrollment counselors, 3,382 insurance agents and 5,421 county workers were in the process. In all, 17,768 insurance agents have registered to sell plans on the state exchange. Licensed insurance agents must receive training through Covered California.

On Monday, Lee told The Bee that fewer than half of the registered agents have been through the training because of technological snags.

"We've had sticky wickets on our IT system for training," Lee said, adding that the problem was being addressed to remove the logjam.

PHOTO: The executive director of Covered California, Peter V. Lee, speaks to members of the media during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Oct. 1. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.



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