Josalee Thrift file photo
Universal Health Care Foundation advocates reach the state Capitol to rally for a public option back on April 27, 2011 (Josalee Thrift file photo)

No amount of rigorous testing will prevent the state’s healthcare marketplace from experiencing glitches when it opens today.

State officials at Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange, said they’ve done their best to prepare for opening day, but there are likely to be errors discovered once “live and actual users” begin using the system.

“We know there will be defects that we will continue to uncover as we roll out this system to residents,” Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan said Monday in a press release. “As issues are identified, we are committed to fixing them quickly, as well as reaching out to individuals who may be affected as needed.”

The new online portal will allow consumers to compare plans side-by-side and decide which may be the best health insurance plan for their personal situation. Recently released census data estimate that 284,000 of the state’s nearly 3.6 million residents were uninsured at some point in 2012. Other estimates put the figure at 344,000 uninsured.

Peter Van Loon, chief operating officer of Access Health CT, reiterated the organization’s commitment to customer service and privacy. He suggested that if “substantial system wide problems” are found, they will temporarily shut the system down to address them.

The information technology piece of the virtual marketplace was a three-year project crammed into 10 months, according to Counihan.

But just because the doors are open doesn’t mean a lot of people will be signing up for an insurance plan that doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014. A lot of people probably won’t want to start paying their premiums three months before they can actually benefit from them, so Counihan has said he expects the largest enrollment period to be in December and the following March.

For the past few months, Counihan has been trying to lower expectations for the exchange and urging patience at the same time his team has been trying to spread the word about exactly what it is that the exchange does and doesn’t do.

Counihan has estimated a small number of people will be able to get through the application process without help. If a person wants to apply it will probably take 55-minutes, and that’s if they have all the necessary paperwork.

People with questions should call Access Health CT at 855-805-4325 or check out their website, , which goes live today. Enrollment runs through March 31.

Three companies in the individual market and three in the small group market will be offering three levels of plans to consumers in Connecticut. Individual coverage is being offered by ConnectiCare Benefits, Anthem Health Plans Inc., and HealthyCT. Small group plans are being offered by United Healthcare, Anthem Health Plans Inc., and HealthyCT.

Click here to learn more about the monthly premiums and to see if you qualify for a federal subsidy.