HealthCare.gov on the mend

White House spokesman says the worst of the online glitches may be over
Associated Press
Dec 3, 2013

Computer crashes should be giving way to insurance coverage — if the government's diagnosis of its health care website is correct.

The Health and Human Services Department released a progress report Sunday on its effort get the troubled HealthCare.gov website on the mend. Administration officials said the worst of the online glitches, bugs and delays may be over.

"The bottom line — HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1," said Jeff Zients, the White House's troubleshooter tasked with making the website function properly.

Overnight Sunday, technicians deployed a major new upgrade in the form of a window shopping feature that lets consumers get details on their insurance options without first having to fill out an application.

The lack of an anonymous shopper feature was one of the major early shortcomings of the system. A stopgap version that was belatedly put in place until now was seen as rudimentary at best. The new version lets consumers get premium quotes by age, and also displays important plan details such as deductibles.

Yet officials acknowledged more work remains on the website, which made its national debut two months ago with hundreds of software flaws, inadequate equipment and inefficient management. Federal workers and private contractors have undertaken an intense reworking of the system.

One problem that consumers can't see — at least not yet — is quickly moving up to the top of the White House priority list. Insurers complain that much of the enrollment information they have gotten through the system's back-room operation is practically useless: erroneous, duplicative or garbled.

That raises the possibility that a patient could go to use their new coverage next January at the pharmacy or doctor's office only to be told they are not in the system.

"In addition to fixing the technical problems with healthcare.gov the significant 'back-end' issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on January 1," said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the largest industry trade group. "In particular, the ongoing problems with processing...enrollment files need to be fixed."

The next crucial deadline for the system is Dec. 23, two days before Christmas.

Consumers must be enrolled by that date so their coverage can kick in on the first of the year.

"There's not really any way to verify from the outside that the vast majority of people who want to enroll can now do so, but we'll find out at least anecdotally over the coming days if the system can handle the traffic and provide a smooth experience for people trying to sign up," said Larry Levitt, a senior adviser at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But, he added, HealthCare.gov is clearly working better than when it first went online. Its challenge now is to convince users who were frustrated during their first visit to give it another chance.

HealthCare.gov was envisioned as the principal place for people in 36 states to buy insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law. But its first few weeks were an embarrassment for the administration and its allies.

Obama made Dec. 1 a self-imposed deadline to fix several significant problems and the administration organized a conference call with reporters Sunday to boast that 400 technical problems had been resolved. Officials, however, declined to say how many items remain on the to-do list.

Even with the repairs in place, the site still won't be able to do everything the administration wants, and companion sites for small businesses and Spanish speakers have been delayed. Questions remain about the stability of the site and the quality of the data it delivers to insurers.

Obama promised a few weeks ago that HealthCare.gov "will work much better on Nov. 30, Dec. 1, than it worked certainly on Oct. 1." But, in trying to lower expectations, he said he could not guarantee that "100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time going on this website will have a perfectly seamless, smooth experience."

Obama rightly predicted errors would remain. The department reported the website was up and running 95 percent of the time last week — meaning a 1-in-20 chance remains of encountering a broken website. The government also estimated that pages crashed at a rate less than once every 100 clicks.

But the administration gave itself a passing grade for meeting its goal of allowing 50,000 people to log onto the website at one time and more than 800,000 people to shop for insurance coverage each day.

If true, it's a dramatic improvement from the system's first weeks, when frustrated buyers watched their computer screen freeze, the website crash and error messages multiply.

The figures — which could not be independently verified — suggest millions of Americans could turn to their laptops to shop for and buy insurance policies by Dec. 23.

 

Comments

sandtown born a...

I'm gonna do the same as most nothing quit my job and let the system take care of me and mines

Contango

Re: "let the system take care of me and mines,"

That should work until said "system" collapses under massive debt and borrowing costs, ala The Soviet Union, Spain, France, Rome, et al.

mikesee

Only an idiot would believe that a healthcare company can provide more services as well as provide coverage to more unhealthy people and NOT take a massive rate increase. You ACA supporters need to wakeup. Idiots.

tzu4u

We have signed up, and are very happy with being able to keep our same insurance company (Medical Mutual of Ohio)same doctors and services, including more screenings and testing for hundreds of dollars less than we pay now. There were higher priced plans, but we chose one similar to the one we have now with a higher deductible and a Health Savings Account.

There are subsidies for couples making up to $62,000.00+ a year. Many choices for plans and companies. We are saving enough to upgrade our dental plan to the best available and still have extra cash in our pockets.

You do not have to sign up to see the plans and calculate your costs. Don't knock it until you check it out. We have been VERY pleasantly surprised.

deertracker

If the HATERS quit hating for just a minute, they may be pleased also. It may not be perfect right out of the gate but give it time to work HATERS!

grumpy

RE: " It may not be perfect right out of the gate but give it time to work"

I am sure you would be saying the same thing to Boeing when their next new plane crashes on it's maiden flight with passengers. Or GM with its newest electric car when its brakes fail after it is put up for sale. Or when a new doctor screws up on your gender change operation. I could go on, but I think I have made my point. When private sector companies roll out new products it is tested long before the public uses them, when gov't rolls out after nearly 3 years setting up... we get obamaSCARE. Let's give more over to the gov't for them to run and control, they have proved their abilities...

In case y'all didn't realize it, that last bit was called sarcasm.

deertracker

So you are equating healthcare with the safety of an airplane? SMDH!You DIDN'T make your point. You simply ranted a bunch of noise none of which even remotely compares to healthcare. It's a WEBSITE. You don't eat it, drive it or fly it! You HATERS simply want to complain because of your dislike for the President. Your entire comment was sarcasm in case "y'all" didn't realize it!

Stop It

Keep shakin' your Damn head and you'll turn your brain into mush if it hasn't already. Liquify it and see how ACA takes care of you. If you could suck up to Obama crap anymore than you already do, it may hurt me. I don't want that. Keep SYDH, really hard...

deertracker

Seems like you HATERS have mush for brains. You are still crying about a law that probably doesn't affect you. People are benefiting from this law and even more will once you lame brains stop spewing lies. SMDH really hard and no brain damage yet. LOSER!

grumpy

RE: " You are still crying about a law that probably doesn't affect you."

This just out. Obama is giving insurance companies an additional $1 trillion in incentives over the next ten years. This is tax money that affect anyone who pays income taxes. Here I thoght we were promised it would be cheaper than it used to be, and save the average family at least $2500 per year.

Here is the link from the right wing extremist paper, the New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/0...

Is Obama trying to bribe the insurance companies?

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101241151

WASHINGTON — The White House is offering more money to insurance companies as an incentive for them to let people keep insurance policies that were to have been canceled next year.

The administration floated several proposals on Monday to ''help offset the loss in premium revenue and profit'' that it said might occur if insurers went along with President Obama's request to reinstate canceled policies.

Millions of people have received notices saying their policies were being canceled because they did not comply with minimum coverage requirements of the new health care law.

grumpy

RE:"So you are equating healthcare with the safety of an airplane?"

Let's see if an airplane fails in its flight you can be injured or die. If your healthcare fails you can be injured or die. One is more spectacular when it fails than the other. One is a choice and the other mandated by gov't.

Amazon and ebay completed 1 million sales per hour on Monday's cyber Monday. The ACA website had 1 million hits... for the whole day and had several crashes during that time.

The people don't like obamaSCARE because it lacks many things, includes things that aren't necessary, breaks promises that were made including costs, savings, and being ready to roll on time and be like Amazon when the website opens. Also the problem isn't relegated to the website, as has been stated several times, it is the website, the lies in the bill, how it was passed, the fact that there was no amendments allowed and the regulations it requires, the money taken from Medicaid, and many of the policies in the law. But you want to focus on the website? That is just the tip of the iceberg. Just like an iceberg 80% is unseen beneath the water. It was a bad bill, written by one party, behind closed, locked doors, not given time to be read, not allowed to have amendments, not allowed to be discussed, and rushed through with votes from only one party. You wish to claim it is all about a website? Keep swilling the kool-aide.

deertracker

You are off your meds again. LOSER!

SamAdams

Okay, I'll wait! How long do you think it'll take for my premiums to cost LESS than my mortgage? Will that happen when the web site is finally fixed? Or not until my identity is stolen?

deertracker

What is higher right now? If anyone steals your identity they will quickly return it! Trust me on that!

The Big Dog's back

LMAO!

looking around

tzu4u Glad you were able to sign up and found a savings, so many here want to see the ACA fail only because of their blind hatred for Obama and really have no first hand information such as yourself. Interesting as I winter in Florida I have heard many conversations from folks like yourself who have had a pleasant experiences. Three guys in a conversation yesterday self employed house painters were telling another self employed contractor that they had signed up under Florida blue shield blue cross, they were arranging to meet with their friend at the library where they could help him sign up. During Saturdays football an acquaintance told me he suffered from seizures and often would injure himself, living alone it is a scary situation for him, he had not been taking his meds because he had no coverage. He was very happy that he was able to get signed up. My neighbor who lives in Kentucky during the summer was able to sign up on the states exchange and was very pleased with the coverages and cost. I suspect as we hear more from those actually participating in the program that the persistent bloggers will fall silent.

I'm sure we have not heard the last of problems with on-line access, but there are many other ways to access the information and successfully sign up.

mikesee

I like how people keep throwing that subsidies are available. As if that money just appears out of thin air. IT is the taxpayer who is paying the subsidy, in case you didn't know. More sooner than later the bill will come due for the subsidy dollars. Since our country is so flush with cash I imagine that there will be no ramifications for the cost.

deertracker

How much does it cost YOU?

mikesee

As much as the gov't wants to rape me for. Who the he!! do you think is paying for the subsidies? Combined with my wife we pay over $50g per year in taxes so I am guessing I am paying more than you!

deertracker

Well, you must be rich so what's the fuss? Yes, you do pay more than me! LOL! DUMMY!

mikesee

Yeah but just think of all the write off's I get.

Actually years of hard work in building my business is starting to pay off. Well, for a while anyways.

ladydye_5

Remember those "ACA FEES" I was complaining about!!!!

deertracker

You don't even have a JOB! Get one, then complain!

toredown11

Our family, like tzu4u, had a good experience signing up for health insurance through Healthcare.gov this past weekend. We didn't save a ton of money ($200/month), but the policy is better and the savings will buy groceries for a couple of weeks. We had been with the same health care provider through my wife's work for the past ten years or so, and the particular plan we were on was cancelled four times and each time we were offered a new plan with big increases in cost (approximately a 10 percent increase with each change). Of course, we had to buy into the new plans because we didn't really have an alternative. Supposedly, my wife's employer was paying half of the cost for our insurance, so I didn't really expect to find something cheaper through the exchange, but to my surprise, we did.
Contango brought up a good point yesterday in a discussion we were having online yesterday. Rates will go up if enough young people don't sign up for insurance, so hopefully our younger adults will get on board. Not only will that help lower hospital costs (one of the reasons that hospital costs are so high is because the hospitals have to offset the losses they take on the uninsured), but I've seen many young "invincibles" ruin their personal finances and credit by getting into a car accident or getting very sick and not having insurance to cover the costs to treat their ailments. I know in California (where they have a state exchange set up), a little over 22 percent of the new sign-ups are younger people, so that's a good sign. I do worry about the Koch Brothers' ads trying to encourage younger people to remain uninsured - that's not going to be good for anyone and rates will go up.
I'm surprised by everyone's criticism of the security on the healthcare.gov website (although I had to laugh that somebody brought up John McAfee's name - just look up his legal problems if you're not familiar with him). The website has basically the same security as any website that we routinely enter our information into and I would assume more than most of the doctor's offices that have all of the same information. Listen, a good hacker can get into just about any server that he/she chooses. If you think you're safe from a hacker now, think again.
Listen, the health care system in this country was so broken BEFORE Obamacare came along. We rank anywhere between 36th and 47th in the world depending on who's study you read yet we pay more for healthcare than any other country hands down (two and a half times more than most developed nations in the world!). Even with health insurance, I can't afford to get my skin cancer treated and send my daughter to college, so I choose to bank on her future and hope that the cancer doesn't spread quickly. When I look at the most profitable companies in the world and a large number of them are insurance companies, I have to think that we can do better in this country. If the health of our citizens is not the top priority, then I have to think something is wrong. Obamacare isn't perfect, but at least something is being done to try to fix the failed system that we've had.

grumpy

As far as security on the website goes I would believe the 4 who make their living doing website security, and gave sworn testimony in to Congress, before I would someone on a newspaper forum. But you can make up your own mind about that.

As far as the health care system in this country being screwed up, how will a gov't run insurance plan known as the ACA change that? Replacing a broken system with another broken system doesn't seem to help. Had it been done with the ability to buy plans across state lines, and tort reform it "might" have helped. But the way it was rammed through Congress with no time to read it and no amendments allowed it was doomed from the start as it couldn't be changed from what was hastily written and quickly submitted. It was crippled from the start.

toredown11

Grumpy, this is not a government run insurance plan. I am purchasing my insurance through BlueChoice HealthPlan. All the government did was set up the exchange that I purchased it through.

Medicaid and Medicare is government run health insurance.

grumpy

You are correct. I mispoke, The coverage minimums are mandated by gov't. You have no choice in paying for prenatial care, no matter your age, you must pay for children no matter your age and ability to have kids, and there are many other things the gov't mandates in the coverage. If you can pick yopur own coverage according to YOUR families needs the cost savings would be yours. Those who don't need those types of coverage are forced to pay for them, no choice. You can't buy a policy that doesn't have them. But you are right the gov't doesn't "run" healthcare insurance. They simply force you to buy what they mandate.

toredown11

You might want to go on the website yourself and "drive around." You don't have to pay for children if you don't have them. I worked out insurance for just myself because we were wondering if it would be more cost effective to keep my wife and kids on her insurance and have me on my own (it wasn't), but it clearly asked me if I was insuring any kids when I did myself separately. My own insurance would have been very inexpensive, but my wife's insurance at her work didn't go down much without me on it so we didn't go that route. Yes, there are things that you're technically subsidizing for other people, but you do that already. The insurance that I've paid for over the last thirty years that I've been in the work force and basically haven't used (other than occasional doctor's visits) has helped pay for my neighbor's wheel chair, therapy and expensive hospital visits. Every insurance company has always used a "pool" system. If they didn't, they'd go broke paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars it could cost for one person that is being treated for cancer. It almost sounds like you want to go to a pay-as-you-go means of health care, but what happens when something catastrophic happens to you or one of your family members and you don't have the money in the bank to cover your expenses? This is just how every kind of insurance works - the only difference is that the pundits have got everyone worked up by pulling out specific "hot topics" like prenatal care or contraception.

grumpy

I suggest you "drive around that website a bit more and do some actual research on what you bought. After you read the information linked below come back with your "proof that you don't have to pay for children that you can have on your policy. It doesn't matter if you have children or not, there is a provision for them... and you pay for that provision.

All health insurance policies have limits on how much they pay out per person, per family, obamaSCARE included. It is not unlimited, it depends on your policy.

You used to be able to get a policy that fit your families needs and not pay for things you would not use, so the insurance company could limit the gamble and save you and themselves some money.

Below are some things many people used to be able to not cover in their policies and save money doing so. If they don't need the coverage, why pay for it?

Mental Health mandated

http://www.forbes.com/sites/merr...

Birth control

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101207136

Kids dental

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/...

And more things you have to have in your policy:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101152063

toredown11

I have to admit, I'm really scratching my head over your last post. First, I don't have to drive around the website - after we checked for insurance for just me and then for our entire family, I am very familiar with the website having spent about three hours on it. But I still don't understand your rationalization - are you saying that I should be upset that I'm only receiving a $200 savings, while getting a better plan with a lower deductible? Listen, the way my rates have been going up for the past decade, I'm thrilled to get any savings at all. In fact, I would have been relieved had I even had to pay the same amount that I've been paying just to get the lower deductible. So I'm subsidizing other people's prenatal care and contraception; I'm saving money over what I was spending and I certainly know a lot of people that I think should take advantage of free contraception. I don't have any complaints there.

Oh, and I'm glad that you brought up dental. I was paying $60/month for my family's dental plan. That is included in the policy that I chose, so I'm actually saving $260/month.

What you don't seem to be grasping is that every single insurance company is it's own form of socialism. It's always been that way. The healthy are essentially subsidizing the sick. It was that way before Obamacare and will be that way with Obamacare.

I could pull up a host of links that contradict the links that you've posted, but we could go on and on for days playing that game. I will leave you with this about Obamacare:

Ending Lifetime & Yearly Limits
The health care law stops insurance companies from limiting lifetime coverage for essential health benefits. In 2014 this applies to yearly limits too.

Lifetime Limits
Insurance companies can’t set a dollar limit on what they spend on essential health benefits for your care during the entire time you’re enrolled in that plan.

Yearly Limits
Insurance companies can still set a yearly dollar limit of $2 million on what they spend for your coverage for plan years or policy years starting before January 1, 2014. No yearly dollar limits on essential health benefits are allowed for plan years starting January 1, 2014.

Does this apply to my plan?
It depends. Protections against lifetime limits on coverage apply to all health plans, including grandfathered plans, whether you get coverage through your employer or buy it yourself.
Protections against annual limits apply to most health plans, but they don’t apply to grandfathered individual health plans. Check your plan’s materials to find out if your health plan is grandfathered.

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