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Covered California removes directory
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The state's insurance exchange, Covered California, has pulled its online directory of medical providers after acknowledging it is riddled with wrong information.

The California Medical Association said it found mistakes such as obstetricians labeled as ophthalmologists and the wrong doctors described as fluent in Russian and Farsi, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The search tool for doctors and hospitals has been offline since Oct. 9 while fixes are being made. An exchange spokesman told the Times it might be restored sometime in the next week.

The site's shutdown may prove to be a headache for California residents signing up for coverage under the new federal health care law.

Information on what doctors and hospitals are included under the law is particularly important because many insurers reduced their provider networks in the exchange in an effort to hold down rates. Blue Shield of California says it will include about half of its contracted doctors. In contrast, HMO giant Kaiser Permanente is making its full network of doctors available.

"We knew this would be a heavy lift," exchange spokesman Larry Hicks told the Times. "We do apologize for the inconsistency in the provider tool and we appreciate consumers' patience."

Jef Kurfess of Westlake Village has been shopping for health plans on Covered California for his two adult sons and possibly for his wife. He says he hit snags while searching for local doctors and a nearby hospital.

"Getting an incredibly inexpensive plan with no doctors you want to see will be a rude shock for people," Kurfess told the Times.

Overall, Covered California's website and enrollment system appear to have recovered from technical glitches reported on the system's opening day, the newspaper said.

The insurance exchange says nearly 95,000 applications for health coverage have been started since Oct. 1. Officials won't disclose how many applications have actually been completed.