Consumer Reports doesn't just tell you which kind of microwave ovens to buy. They also give advice on whether or not you should sign up online (or attempt to sign up, as the case may be) for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA's site, Healthcare.gov, has been plagued with problems since launching earlier this month. People have been unable to log on and create accounts.
The verdict from Consumer Reports: It's not worth the hassle, at least for now.
Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made. The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.
All told, a little more than 270,000 people were able to create accounts on Healthcare.gov during the site's first week online, according to Consumer Reports. Approximately 9.47 million people tried to register. Not a very good batting average for Uncle Sam.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has been outspoken in his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, recently dialed the site's call center and spoke to an operator. Hannity asked the operator if she has ever spoken to anybody who likes the healthcare.gov site. The operator's response: "Umm, no, not really."
Listen here, beginning around the 6:50 mark:
Consumer Reports asked for some tips from professional software tester Ben Simo on how to create an account for people who don't wish to wait. Simo suggests that people follow the site's instructions to the letter (especially when creating a password), "move on immediately from failed logins," check their email inbox frequently for an account activation messages from Healthcare.gov, and clear their cookies if they run into blank pages.
The National Review writes that is hardly the first time Consumer Reports has taken a swipe at Healthcare.gov. In previous blogs, the magazine called the site "barely operational."
President Obama has acknowledged that Healthcare.gov has gotten off to a rocky start. At the White House on Monday, Obama said, "People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody’s more frustrated by that than I am."