Despite Promises, Relaunched Healthcare.gov Still Proves Dysfunctional
On Sunday, a day after the date on which the White House had promised Healthcare.gov would work for a "vast majority" of Americans, Jeffrey Zients, the man tasked with fixing the dysfunctional website, claimed it was "much more stable" and "reliably open for business."
"The bottom line is health care.gov on December first is night and day from where it was October first," he claimed, according to USA Today. "The site is now stable and operating at its intended capacity at greatly improved performance."
However, the site that even the New York Times has said is still a "work in progress" is not functioning for many people who need to enroll in Obamacare plans.
Though the Obama administration has claimed HealthCare.gov can now handle 50,000 users at the same time and around 800,000 users a day, Obama administration officials have said they want users to be on the site during non-peak hours and will suggest to users "a better time to return to the site" as they log on during "peak hours." Zients on Sunday reportedly warned there could still even be some outages as the Obama administration seeks to add seven million Americans to the various Obamacare programs. Many of those Americans looking for insurance will need to use the website to figure out if they qualify for subsidies.
Not only is 40% of the site still not fully built, NBC News also reported that the "back end" is also still not completely functional, which means "health insurers are still seeing enrollments that are duplicated and missing information." According to National Journal, "there is still about a 5 percent error rate in the information the site submits to insurance companies on behalf of those picking a new insurance plan. If the site is fixed but this problem is not, the problem could get worse. People would sign on, fill out the forms, and insurance companies would be flooded with bad data."
The site will reportedly run faster when users are browsing for plans than when they are actually trying to enroll in them, which is further exacerbated because the "so-called direct enrollment" feature is still barely working, meaning that a "vast majority" Americans are unable to go "directly to a health insurer's site and sign up with a small detour to HealthCare.gov to see if they are eligible for a subsidy."
The Wall Street Journal tried to apply on HealthCare.gov on Saturday and failed:
We’ve been trying to file an application for coverage here at MarketWatch, but we keep running into the same issues whenever we try to complete the online form. We’ve asked officials at Healthcare.gov, and they insist these aren’t prevalent for most applications to President Obama’s health-care overhaul.
So we’ve tried to to pursue other avenues to get at the same thing, but we keep hitting the same roadblock: “Sorry, our system is temporarily down.”
We were getting that message when we tried to fill out an application within the state of Arizona. A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokeswoman said at the time that the agency wasn’t seeing that issue for other users. We then tried another application using a different name through the state of Alabama. Still no dice.
Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and a Breitbart News contributor, reported that he knew many people who were having trouble completing their applications.
"Applications are in limbo — many already initiated are stalled, lost or otherwise can’t be completed. Applicants eligible for subsidies must use the website, or [HealthCare.gov] paper alternatives that can’t handle the volume, but the system often can’t verify applicants’ eligibility for aid,” Morici wrote. “Overall, the website still fails to complete the enrollment process for many who try.”
A look at the HealthCare.gov Facebook page showed Americans having all kinds of concerns and problems associated with a still malfunctioning site.
Becky McElhaney wrote on the Facebook page that she was "continuing to run into hub errors":
DO NOT tell me to call your 800 numbers. They read from a stinking manual and tell me that there still are "glitches" blah , blah blah.. I need to speak to people who can actually help! I have called numerous time and NO ONE knows anything but reads the list you have placed everywhere. I can read! we need real answers not this canned BS!
David Pinckard wrote:
Bs still my application is in pending when I signed up first week I'm not going to create an new email just because this Heath act is force upon us fix your site.
Eugenea Jones Bare had problems uploading documents:
I have been trying to upload documents to verify identity for over a month. Sucks that I will probably have to pay the fine all because some stupid website doesn't work.
Eli Samuels ran into the same problems:
Same old, Same old. Incomplete, redo, sign, incomplete, redo, sign, incomplete, etc., etc. But it's Saturday November 30th. The site is supposed to work today...BS
Laurel Lee had trouble even contacting a live representative:
Still not working for me. Started Nov 15. Put in information including income. Income info is gone stuck in same loop get to income and system down. Every day many times system down. It takes 20 minutes to save and continue each question. Calls and live chat no help. Today live chat says the system is overwhelmed or a glitch to call a rep. After calling a rep her advice keep trying at off peak hours like I haven't tried that. Any advice if it isn't fixed by deadline none... just keep trying so more people can waste their time trying to sign up and bog down the site.
Wendy Nichols has been stuck on a part of the website for two months:
Will the website get me out of the "stuck" place I have been in for 2 months? It says I am verified, I read my eligibility notice. That says buy a plan but I can't see plans. Another part says enrollment incomplete, but I can't get back to the enrollment! Tried to start a new registration, it says "try later"! How do I get to the next part to actually purchase health insurance? I have 15 days (or 23 if banner above is correct) to buy insurance or I will lapse for the New Year. Please help! Called & Live help did not advance me either. Will that work now too?
Philip Jay DeLoache is also running into the same problems he had two months ago:
still can't get anywhere with my states site. Exact problems as of 8 weeks ago except no longer any link to provide public feedback. Very interesting.
Ly Wenarsky had trouble even accessing his application on the website:
Has anyone gotten this error? I applied by phone and finally, two weeks later I can access my application online. I got my eligibility PDF for the tax credits with the amount and my status is coming up "verfied". But when I try to continue to enrollment, it states that an error occured while trying to review my tax credit information. What exactly does that mean? I'm about to start over with a new application but I'm afraid that will mess stuff up...Phone Help: USELESS.
According to Reuters, a group called "Migrant Health Promotion" also found plenty of glitches on the site, especially "at the later stages of the process where subsidies are calculated." A spokesperson for the group said there was "a barrier to paying the first month's premium" because "the problem came right at the point of paying."
In addition, Navigator groups that were supposed to help people sign up for Obamacare reportedly "had not planned for a busy weekend following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday," and "several groups" told Reuters that they "they would not be open."
Though Healthcare.gov supposedly "doubled its user capacity and eliminated many bugs," Jonathan Wu, a co-founder of the consumer financial website ValuePenguin, told Reuters that said that it would be far more difficult to gauge other metrics, like Zients's claim that the "uptime" is reportedly now at 95%,
White House officials "have said they expect the site will work for about 80 percent of users by Nov. 30." And even though Wu said "a 20 percent failure rate wouldn't be considered success in most industries," only those working on the website may actually know whether it is achieving even an 80-90% success rate. Wu told Reuters it was tough to independently measure how well the website is working "beyond the first step, where users choose a password and enter an email address."
"It prevents anyone from the outside from contradicting them," he said of the HealthCare.Gov chaos.