When Will HealthCare.gov be Accessible to All?

Since the open-enrollment roll out on October 1st, the Affordable Care Act’s online health exchange website, HealthCare.gov has been riddled with issues. User experience has been overwhelmingly negative, with many Americans finding themselves unable to register for accounts on the exchange, and/or unable to enroll in a health care plan. Government officials have been careful not to use specific numbers when discussing their expectations of the progress being made in correcting the errors on HealthCare.gov, but now we’re starting to see the emergence of more definite statistics.

November 30th is the projected date for most of the repairs to be completed on the online health exchange. Until now, the administration simply stated that by the end of November a “vast majority” of users would be able to navigate and use the site as intended. Clearly, this “figure” is vague at best, and left many users frustrated by the insufficient information being provided. Presidential spokesman Jay Carney recently announced that by November 30th, 4 out of 5 users on the health exchange site should be able to successfully create accounts and enroll in services. During his daily White House briefing on Monday, he said, “Others can decide whether or not 80% is a vast majority . . . I think, in most contexts, it is.”

HealthCare.gov can currently function without major issues when 20-25,000 users are surfing the site at the same time, but original projections for the website’s use were to accommodate twice as many users. A bulk of the problems that have been encountered on the site occur when user volume becomes too great, and the system begins to lag and develop more significant problems. Initially registering for a personal account seems to have been manageable for over 90% of the health exchange’s users, but as they get further into the site’s features, issues arise.

Carney explained that the 1 in 5 HealthCare.gov visitors who will continue to experience problems after November 30th fall into three categories that will cause the issues: people who are not particularly tech savvy, people who encounter technical errors on the website, and people who are unable to provide information about their qualifications for subsidies to pay for health coverage due to their complicated family situations.

Although the work being done to make the necessary repairs on the health exchange website are ongoing, many Americans remain disenchanted with the system for which they previous had high hopes. One of the biggest issues that still remains is the fact that pages meant to inform insurers about coverage applicants have been providing incorrect information, and continue to do so despite extensive repair efforts. That, in itself, is a wrench in the machine that will make the success of the initiative impossible without correction.

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