Tips for Accessing's Federal Insurance Marketplace

Last updated: October 2013

As a freelancer with a pre-existing condition who is married to an entrepreneur, I've been early awaiting the opening of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace. Like the rest of the country, I've encountered a variety of technical glitches. I keep trying and get a little further into the process every day before the system hangs. If you're like me and can't wait until traffic settles down to learn what health insurance plans look like under the Affordable Care Act, here are some tips for logging into the federal marketplace*:

  • If you don't succeed with your usual browser, try a different one. Internet Explorer is the only browser through which I've been able to access the entire application and policy offerings. And I've been thorough, trying Firefox, Chrome and Safari daily as well. (Internet Explorer has the greatest market share of all browsers, so I'm guessing the site was developed first for Internet Explorer, with the other browsers being of lesser importance. That's pure speculation, but my experience supports this hypothesis.)
  • If you get the screen that says "Please wait here until we send you to the login page," keep that screen open and do not refresh your browser. It is holding your place in line and will eventually take you to the registration or log in page.
  • If you will be applying with your spouse, both of you should try to create accounts. My husband's account was immediately active last Thursday, but mine is still in limbo. All the information I've gathered thus far has been through my husband's account.
  • Traffic waxes and wanes throughout the day, so try to access the site at different times. The middle of the night is your best bet, but late at night on the west coast or early in the morning on the east coast are good too. If you can't swing any of those times, just try whenever you can and be prepared to wait.
  • Prepare your application details ahead of time. Have the names and social security numbers for all everyone who will be on your application, number of dependents, and approximate income figures. Most of the questions ask you to project your 2014 income, though some ask for 2013 earnings information.
  • Keep trying! After spending at least a couple hours each day trying to access the site, I eventually accessed the plans on Saturday. I was able to spend an hour reviewing them before another glitch kicked me off the site.

*The federal government oversees the insurance marketplace for 31 states. Your experience will be different if you live in a place with a state-run marketplace.

10/16/13 update: If you're still having trouble getting through, now has a tool that will show you information on plans in your area without completing an application. Prices will not reflect any subsidies you might be eligible for and your information will not go toward your future application.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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