The Obama administration said today that it achieved its goal of making HealthCare.gov work for the “vast majority” of users, two months after the disastrous start of enrollment in the president’s signature health law.
“The bottom line: HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1st is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1st,” said Jeff Zients, who led the repair effort and briefed reporters this morning.
The troubled Obamacare website will be able to support more than 800,000 consumers per day, marking success after weeks of frantic repairs, the administration said. The site is now online more than 90 percent of the time, not including scheduled downtime for maintenance. It had been crashing and spewing error messages frequently, thwarting millions of people who tried to visit the site since the disastrous Oct. 1 start date. Around 48 million people lack insurance but only a trickle have made it through the site.
The enrollment period is supposed to run through March 31, but people who want coverage by Jan. 1 – including several million distraught people whose current health plans have been cancelled – have until Dec. 23 to sign up. The administration wants to get people enrolled and get Obamacare on track after weeks of damaging headlines and witheringcriticism even from key allies.
“While there is more work to be done, the team is operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness, and will continue their work to improve and enhance the website in the weeks and months ahead,” the administration wrote in a report outlining its success.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it has repaired more than 400 items on its “punch list” of bugs and fixes. The agency also said it reduced response times from 8 seconds in late October to less than 1 second and error rates are under 1 percent.
Zients, who has been leading the recovery effort, reported that the administration had hit its mark of making the site work smoothly for most users. His assessment came during a 9 a.m. briefing by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The 90 percent availability is a huge leap from the average of about 42.9 percent during most of October, Zients said. But he acknowledged that 90 percent -and the site’s overall performance – isn’t good enough and that work will continue.
Even if it’s up more than 90 percent of the time, that’s still plenty of room for problems and crashes.
Obama administration officials say they are still working to repair the “back end” of HealthCare.gov – the part where consumer applications and data go to the insurance companies that must finalize the health plan enrollment so that people can actually get their coverage.
“A number of the fixes that went into place this weekend in particular will significantly address some of the highest priority things that we know were a particular concern with those transaction forms,” said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for CMS.
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