In a report issued December 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) said that the ongoing repairs to the HealthCare.gov website met the Administration’s goals, and the site is now working properly for the vast majority of people who use it.
For all residents in the 36 States that opted to have the Federal Government run the health insurance marketplace created under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (which some call “Obamacare”), the HealthCare.gov website provides online access to that marketplace.
“The federal website serves 36 states, including Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, while 14 states including New York and California run their own,” as reported by Bloomberg.
In the insurance marketplace created by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, people whose employer’s do not provide them with health insurance, can find and purchase affordable health insurance that meets new Federal standards of patient protection and adequate coverage. The website allows people to compare the benefits and costs of the available health insurance policies offered by private insurance companies, before buying an insurance policy. The website is intended also to allow people to purchase a new health insurance on the exchange online.
Under the Health Care Law, all such policies offered on the new health insurance exchanges must meet federal standards of patient protection and coverage, and insurers cannot refuse to insure people because of pre-existing health conditions, nor cap lifetime benefits, nor engage in discriminatory pricing based on gender, among numerous other patient protections implemented by the law.
The HealthCare.gov website is not the only means by which people can access and purchase health insurance policies on the new exchanges. They can also access the information and purchase the new policies via telephone or by paper application, and the HealthCare.gov website provides links to where anyone can find assistance in comparing and purchasing a new health insurance policy on the exchange. Those portions of the website have always been working well.
Significant technical problems were encountered with the portion of the HealthCare.gov website intended to allow people to purchase policies online, when that portion of the site first opened on October 1.
“The bottom line is HealthCare.gov on December first is night and day from where it was October first,” Jeffrey Zients, the President’s appointee to head the team tasked with fixing the technical problems encountered with the website when it first opened on October 1, 2013. In a press conference on Sunday, he continued, “The site is now stable and operating at its intended capacity at greatly improved performance.”
Following several bug fixes and hardware updates finished over the weekend, HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange site, now has the capacity to serve 50,000 people at a time, totaling 800,000 people a day, according to the report issued Sunday by HHS.
Following is a copy of the HHS Progress Report (in its entirety) issued today by the team that was tasked by President Obama with fixing the HealthCare.gov website:
According to the Report, as summarized by USA Today, the website repair team headed by Mr. Zients has so far:
- “Made hundreds of software fixes, upgraded hardware, and monitored the system to make improvements;
- Stabilized the site at its original intended capacity; and
- Improved overall metrics, which means the site is working well for most users.”
In the press conference on Sunday, Mr. Zints said that “a new hardware upgrade made Friday quadrupled the [site's] registration capacity,” and “response times are under one second with an error rate below 1%.”
“Over the holiday weekend, traffic [to the website] has been significantly higher than a typical weekend,” Mr. Zients said, “but the website has handled the traffic smoothly.”
Julie Bataille, director of the office of communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said “As we said about five weeks ago, we were seeing only about 30% of users being able to enroll.” “That percentage is now up to 80%.”
Ms. Bataille explained, however, “It’s important to remember that there are and will remain a significant number of people for whom online is not their preferred method of enrollment. Those people will be able to enroll with paper applications, in person, over the phone and, in some cases, directly through an insurer.”
Ms. Bataille cautioned that it could be several days before some people, such as those who lost their login information or were previously locked out of the system, will see the results of some of the improvements to the website.
At the press conference on Sunday, as reported by USA Today, Mr. Zients explained a new feature of the site: “If someone comes to HealthCare.gov and the site is at maximum capacity, the person will be able to leave an e-mail address. When traffic clears and there is space for another visitor, that person will receive an e-mail telling them they can log back in without a wait.”
For more news and information about the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature Health Care Law, and about health care reform, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on VoicesForCare™, including:
- News on Health Care Reform;
- Editorials: What Needs Improvement, With Your Comments;
- Advocacy: Proposals for Reform, With Your Comments;
- Legislation: Pending & Recently Adopted; and
- National & International Health Care Compare: Compare Health Care & Long-Term Care Statistics and Solutions in the 50 U.S. States and in Other Countries.
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