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Computer problems that darkened Covered California's website last week will force as many as 14,500 customers with partially completed applications to either resubmit the changes or begin a new request, officials at the health exchange said Friday.

Overall, about 37,000 Californians were affected by a software malfunction that led officials to ground their enrollment portal for five days. Those who submitted updates between Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 may have to start over.

The state exchange plans to follow up with the customers to restore their information. Customers must finish their enrollment by March 15 for coverage to begin April 1. The deadline for the first open enrollment period is March 31.

"They also can call in and we can give them assistance if they want to do it by phone," said Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California.

While personal data was not compromised during the outage, some of the data must still be recovered and checked for accuracy.

The exchange was forced to take offline the enrollment function of its website on Feb. 19 after the malfunction rendered some customer pages unreadable. The problems were discovered following scheduled 24-hour maintenance beginning at 1 a.m. Feb. 17.

All services were restored about 4 a.m. Monday.

About 6,500 customers that completed applications and selected plans between Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 are affected but need not worry, officials said. The information will be fully restored and processed by the health insurance plans.

Another 16,000 applicants likely eligible for Medi-Cal will have their paperwork restored and processed by counties. They should call their county human services agency with any questions, officials said.

Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said the agency regrets any inconvenience caused by the outage.

"Our enrollment website has been up and running this week, and we look forward to helping consumers get the health coverage they want and deserve," Lee said.

Paper applications were not affected by the website malfunctions. More than 828,000 people have signed up for health insurance through the state exchange.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 3:55 p.m. Saturday March 1, 2014 to clarify that customers must finish their enrollment by March 15.

PHOTO: Covered California logo



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