Waiting for HealthCare.gov to get fully functional? You might be waiting a little longer.
The Washington Post is reporting that an official with knowledge of the technological demands on the government's online health insurance marketplace says it is not likely the site will be fully functional by the end of the month, as the Obama administration has promised.
The primary issue for the site is how to handle the large numbers of users seeking more information on insurance plans. The site was supposed to be designed to host up to 60,000 users at one time, but it is having problems when half that number log on at once.
Bug hunting by the site's primary contractor, CGI Federal, has been problematic as well; the Washington Post's source indicates that only about 60 percent of the site's problems have been effectively addressed.
President Barack Obama has assured the public that the “website is already better than it was at the beginning of October, and by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to, all right?” That's looking ever more unlikely, which would force Americans seeking insurance to use alternate means: telephone call centers or direct contact with insurance carriers.
But the problems radiate outward from the faltering HealthCare.gov site. While there are more than 10,000 employees at 17 call centers, those employees often lack the ability to make changes in customers' files. And insurance companies seeking to sign up customers directly must deal with the same problems in HealthCare.gov as individual users.
(See the Washington Post's graphic for the many twists and turns required of a HealthCare.gov user and the many problems that can and do ensue.)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, indicates that work on the site has taken effect; wait times are down from eight seconds per page to one second, and errors are affecting only 2 percent of users, down from 6 percent.
This follows on the heels of former President Bill Clinton's suggestion that the Obama administration keep its promise to allow all Americans to keep their current insurance plans, a proposal that, as it turns out, could leave the entire program on shaky financial footing.