Countdown: Four Days Until Obamacare Website Can Handle 50,000 Users
President Barack Obama's singular legislative achievement, Obamacare, will make its new and improved debut in four days for what the president promises will be a vastly improved experience wherein the federal healthcare.gov website will be able to handle 50,000 simultaneous users come November 30.
Former White House budget director Jeff Zients took over the Obamacare website's rebuild and promised results. But in an effort to lower expectations—and perhaps lower the number of Americans using the website and potentially crashing the new system--the administration has begun walking back Obama's performance promises. Obama officials now say that four out of five healthcare.gov users should be able to use the new and improved system.
However, experts say an 80% success rate would hardly be cause for celebration.
"Twenty percent still leaves a lot of noise in the system... that leaves a lot of people with a bad experience," Avalere Health Vice President Caroline Pearson told the National Journal.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokesperson Julie Bataille is busy lowering expectations, warning that "if we experience extraordinary demand, consumers may not immediately be able to complete the application."
Either way, it's unclear what a "fixed" healthcare.gov website would actually mean. According to Obamacare's own Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, up to 40% of the entire healthcare.gov website, including payment and accounting systems, has yet to be built.
"If people are enrolling, but the back-end systems are not working, their coverage could ultimately be disrupted," an insurance industry source told Politico. "They may think they're enrolled in a plan they're not."