"It's definitely ... an incremental step," said Cruz, whose customer service representatives enrolled several dozen people Sunday night after his site put the workaround in place. "At this point, Web-based enrollment doesn't even work."
"It's far better than having tens of thousands of people waiting for us to call them back at some unknown date" and telling them they can enroll electronically, Cruz said. "At this point, it's getting late. People are sitting around, waiting to get enrolled."
Cruz said customers going to GoHealth's site can window-shop for insurance plans, get a rough sense of their eligibility for insurance and start the enrollment process online. However, when it comes time to actually enroll, and to get subsidy approval, customers need to verbally speak with a customer service rep who will walk them though the process, and confirm their subsidy eligibility with the federal data hub component of HealthCare.gov.
But there are several caveats to GoHealth's fix.
First, the company does not operate in four states—Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont—a fact that online visitors will be alerted of as soon as they enter their ZIP code on GoHealth's site.
Also, there are eight states whose residents are still not yet able to shop online at GoHealth because of delays the company has had integrating with some insurance carriers. Residents of those states—Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, or West Virginia—will be given directions from the website to call GoHealth reps directly to perform their enrollment on the phone.
(Read more: Another day, two more delays for Obamacare deadlines)
GoHealth's workaround comes as the federal government is scrambling to fix HealthCare.gov well enough so that it can sign up potentially millions of people in Obamacare insurance, and as federal officials take other steps to have individual insurers and private Web markets directly enroll people in those plans without customers having to interface with the HealthCare.gov enrollment and shopping portal.