Telephones have been ringing off the hook at a Brooklyn cupcake bakery, an Indian restaurant and other New York City establishments, but the calls are not all helping business.
Because of a glitch on a New York state health website, at least a half dozen businesses were wrongly listed as counselors who can help people select health insurance under the new federal Affordable Care Act.
"Who would have figured that cupcakes would be confused with health insurance?" said Gus Rodriguez of Brooklyn Cupcake, which has gotten more than two dozen calls a day from people who want help in choosing a health-care plan.
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"We've been taking it with a bit of humor," he added.
New York state's Health Plan Marketplace website listing the numbers to call was unveiled October 1, said Bill Schwarz, spokesman for the New York State Health Department.
The wrong numbers, which include shops, restaurants and a limousine service, were among the contacts provided by 50 organizations involved in the state program, he said.
Numbers for some 500 health-care counselors, or navigators as they are officially called, from across the state are cited on the list that is more than 200 pages long, and health officials are "combing through" it to correct the mistakes, Schwarz said.
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At Apex Limousines Inc. in Brooklyn, the phone calls from people mistakenly seeking help with health insurance is adding to the workload of busy dispatchers, said employee Dmitry Rozanovsky.
"It's amusing," he said. "But we're annoyed, too."
The New York glitch is the latest in a string of complaints about the roll-out of websites for the new health-care system. The federal government's HealthCare.gov site has been plagued with technical problems that have hindered people from registering.
Amar Jit, who owns the Desi Deli in Manhattan, said he was confused as to how his restaurant ended up listed as an expert in health insurance.
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"We are an Indian restaurant. I don't know about that," he said.
Jit says he is getting about 10 misdirected calls a day but has not made any complaint to the state health department yet.
"What can I do about? I can do nothing," he said.