Critics say technology glitches showed public exchanges were not ready for opening day. Proponents of health reform said server-crashing traffic to exchange sites were proof of strong interest. Here's a more objective rundown of learnings from the opening of public exchanges, offered by Kev Coleman, director of Data & Research for Healthpocket:

1. There is considerable public interest in the new health insurance marketplace. According to the White House, more than one million people had attempted to use the federal health insurance exchange before 7:00 a.m. ET. 

2. Prices vary widely not only from state to state but even within a state. For example, a 35 year-old male nonsmoker from Massachusetts shopping for an entry-level Bronze Plan had options ranging from $192.66 a month to $375.83. Nearby Connecticut, in comparison, had premiums start higher for this applicant profile but cap at a lower ceiling with a premium range of $241.85 to $299.93.

3. Technical problems and feature outages were experienced both in the federal exchange as well as several state exchanges. By 3:00 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon, the federal exchange and various state exchanges (such as Idaho, Maryland, and Minnesota) were not successfully displaying health plan comparisons. 

4. Anonymous shopping was the exception rather than the norm. The federal exchange serving 36 states had an account creation process and application form required before insurance plans could be compared. When customer service was called, the representative said that he believed the application process needed to be completed step-by-step prior to comparing health insurance plans.

5. Phone support fared better than online functionality at the federal health insurance exchange. While the online functionality of the federal health insurance exchange experienced repeated technical difficulties during the day, the toll-free customer support number was operational. An afternoon call to the number resulted in access to a live representative after five minutes on hold. 

HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans available to an individual, family, or small business to allow consumers to make their best health plan decision and reduce their out of pocket costs. HealthPocket uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of HealthPocket.com spent decades pioneering internet-based access to health insurance information and created HealthPocket to offer an online resource to positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.

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