BOISE -- Nearly two months after the health insurance exchange marketplace opened, KTVB checked in with the state call center and tried logging onto the federal platform again.
On October 1 when the online marketplace opened, the federal website that Idahoans must go through was almost impossible to get through. KTVB was unable to even set up an account that day.
On Wednesday afternoon, it only took five minutes to set up an account and start getting into the exchange site to begin looking at options.
While it's clear that element has improved, at the Your Health Idaho call center, customer service representatives say there are still a number of issues they get calls about.
Loralie Walker has worked the Your Health Idaho call center since the marketplace opened and was working the phones on October 1.
"That first day, I got home and we had done about 500 calls, and I felt like I'd been run over by a freight train!" Walker said.
She says call volume has decreased a lot and so have issues with the website being clogged up, but now, she says people are getting stuck in other ways.
"[Customers say] 'I've gotten just so far. I've done my application. I've gotten my email, and I can't open it. Or I've gotten my eligibility determination and it doesn't make any sense,'" Walker said.
After weeks of taking calls and helping people understand the exchange and premium assistance, Walker says most problems still come as a result of the federal platform Idaho is using for the first year. With those issues, the Idaho call center has found it very hard to help.
"Almost all of those issues are still just technological issues they're dealing with on the federal level," Walker said. "What's really challenging is because we don't have any access to that, we don't know what they're looking at. So, they're asking us questions, and we don't have a visual of what they're seeing and what they're encountering on the federal level."
Often, Walker says they have to have people call a federal call center for help, which is frustrating for everyone.
"This has been the hardest part, is when we get to a question about the actual application and because we don't have access, we have to direct them to the federal call centers. Yeah. Which doesn't make anybody happy. Because more than likely they've already called the federal call center," Walker said.
Walker says they can take as much time as they need with customers over the phone to help them and don't have scripts, so they can try to help people more.
She also tells people it should be easier next year when the website moves to a state-based platform.
"We constantly tell people, we wish we could help you. Because if we could, we would be getting it done right now, and you'd be on your way. But we do the best we can with the resources we have this year," Walker said.
Two weeks ago, Your Health Idaho said 338 Idahoans had selected plans from the exchange in the first month of the marketplace. There are 200,000 uninsured people in Idaho.
The call center will be closed on Thanksgiving and will open again on Friday at 8 a.m.