The Affordable Care Act individual major medical open enrollment period show started Tuesday and is set to run in sales theaters near you until Jan. 31. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Managers of HealthCare.gov say the open enrollment period for 2017 has gotten off to a busy start.

The level of activity during the first six hours of the open enrollment period was 50 percent higher than during the comparable period in 2015, and HealthCare.gov took in 150,000 coverage applications during the first full day of the enrollment period, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Related: Broker lead tool pumps up Colorado ACA exchange sales

HHS set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act exchange enrollment and account administration services in states that are unable or unwilling to handle that job themselves.

The open enrollment period for 2017 started Tuesday.

A year ago, HHS officials said HealthCare.gov had taken in about 250,000 coverage applications during the first full day of the open enrollment period for 2016.

MNsure, Minnesota’s state-based exchange enrollment system, was down much of the day yesterday because of some combination of heavy volume, technical glitches and efforts by ACA opponents to crash the system by flooding it with visits. In spite of the technical problems, about state residents used the system to apply for coverage for about 5,000 people, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

MNsure may have spurred consumers to try to sign up for exchange plan coverage early by announcing that it will impose enrollment caps for 2017 on coverage from most participating carriers. Blue Plus is the only exchange issuer selling coverage without protection from an enrollment cap.

George Kalogeropoulos, the chief executive officer of HealthSherpa.com, a San Francisco-based “Web broker entity” that helps retail insurance agents and brokers submit ACA exchange coverage applications for their customers, says HealthSherpa.com activity levels support the idea that the ACA exchange system has been very busy.

“As of day two of open enrollment, the traffic on HealthSherpa.com has been through the roof,” Kalogeropoulos said in an email. “We know HealthCare.gov is getting 50 percent more website visits compared to last year, and our website is experiencing that surge as well.” 

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