Sun Investigates

Health exchange visitors leave heated feedback on Maryland's site

Thousands of Marylanders who had trouble signing up for health coverage on the state's glitch-riddled exchange last year have vented their frustrations in the site's online feedback forms.

Of more than 4,000 comments that accrued from the site's launch on Oct. 1 through Dec. 12, only 15 were positive, according to an analysis by the Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism's newswire obtained the feedback forms through a Public Information Act request.


Complaints about the site varied: Some users were unable to set up an account to search for insurance plans; others faced frozen pages, broken links and other issues. Many commenters were quick to blame state and national leaders for the faulty site, which was designed for uninsured residents to obtain health care under the Affordable Care Act.

"This is ridiculous, whoever designed this site should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY!!!" one commenter wrote. "And I am a huge supporter of the ACA, so this whole experience is deeply disappointing."


"This is the 4th day I have tried to access this site and apply ... still have not even been able to create an account," another wrote. "Looks like another fine piece of work by our idiot Governor."

"The best thing I can relate this to is going to a much anticipated new restaurant opening and getting food poisoning," said a third.

Another put it simply: "It Sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The students at the Capital News Service obtained hundreds of pages of comments, some of which contained profanity, political attacks on Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, racial insults about President Barack Obama, and poor spelling and grammar. The newswire also put together a video of dramatic readings of some of the comments.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Board voted April 1 to scrap the website and adopt software used by Connecticut's more successful exchange instead. Maryland's website crashed after launching Oct.1 and has had technical problems ever since.