Tens of thousands have picked, paid for insurance plans through Massachusetts Health Connector

Associated Press

More than 82,000 people have picked and paid for insurance plans through the state's Health Connector website since the start of the latest open enrollment period in mid-November.

An additional 195,000 have been enrolled in MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program, during the same period.

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Health Connector Executive Director Maydad Cohen released the updated numbers Friday, the deadline to sign up and pay for insurance plans that take effect Feb. 1.

Cohen apologized to those irked with long wait times at the Connector's call center. He said the Connector has added staff to help deal with the crush of phone calls. He said there had been 12,000 calls on Friday by noon.

"As expected, we're seeing heavy volume," he said. "We do have some frustrated customers."

Cohen said there have been 3 million visits to the website during the open enrollment period.

A final deadline is Feb. 15, the end of the open enrollment period. That's the deadline for picking and paying for a plan for March 1.

Gov. Charlie Baker this week tapped Louis Gutierrez to serve as executive director for the Connector.

Baker has said the factors driving a $765 million state deficit include a projected $230 million shortfall in Medicaid tied to the failure of the state's Health Connector last year.

That failure prompted state officials to move hundreds of thousands of people into temporary Medicaid coverage.

Cohen said Health Connector has improved significantly since then and now has a fully functioning website.