Healthcare.gov on the Third Day of Christmas
Were the Canadians Working on Healthcare.gov French?
It has been quite a year for Healthcare.gov. With 106 days remaining to enroll in a Healthcare Exchange, Healthcare.gov the November 30 milestone date for site fixes has come and gone. Open enrollment began on October 1, coverage can begin on Jan 1, and open enrollment closes on Mar 31. They are still reporting regularly on How we’re working to improve HealthCare.gov on software updates and enhancements. And they still can’t tell you enough that there are four ways to apply for coverage: online, phone, paper application, or in person.
On March 23, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. One of the provisions in the law was a mandate for HHS to make available, comparison insurance information to consumers on the web by July 1, 2010. On July 1, 2010, HHS launched Healthcare.gov specifically to help the consumer navigate today’s health care challenges.
June 2013 – To help consumers prepare for open enrollment in the Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace the Obama administration updated its Healthcare.gov website. The website and 24-hour consumer call center are designed to walk us through the process of signing up for private health insurance. In a statement by issued by Health and Human Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said “The new website and toll-free number have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families—or their businesses.”
October 2013 – Enrollment opened on October 1 with great expectations to deliver healthcare insurance a new way and to more people through the Affordable Care Act. More than 8.1 million consumers visited the site the first four days. By mid month there was no denying the problems and the need to put all hands on deck. With the Obama administration taking notice and Sebelius apologizing, Congress gears up to find out what has happened. Start the “technology surge” and let the political theater begin…
November 2013 – On the 6th, one week after her appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Secretary Sebelius testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Healthcare.gov and ACA issues. She says there are hundreds of problems but won’t agree with critics that think the program should be delayed. The payer spokespeople are saying the delays would bring increases to premiums in 2015.
This first week in November also saw the first jumping off the ship. It was reported the CMS CIO Tony Trenkle is leaving for the private sector. Good timing there for him I would say!
On the 13th HHS reveals numbers everyone was waiting for in a press release announcing the detailed results of the first reporting period, Oct. 1 through Nov. 2 of the Health Insurance Marketplace’s open enrollment. 106,185 Americans selected health plans in first reporting period of open enrollment, 975,407 customers through the process but have not yet selected a plan, and an additional 396,261 assessed or determined eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
And over on the Hill on the 13th, techs take the hot seat in Congressional hearings on what went wrong in the rollout. Politico profiles the 5 trying to give the answers in Darrell Issa panel to grill tech officials on Obamacare. Here is what we learned. Blame it on the volume. The site can’t take it when 20,000 to 30,000 users are visiting at the same time. Their goal is to have most of the problems and performance better by Nov. 30.
The month closed in and on a conference call to state and local officials Secretary Sebelius tells them, “We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of this month.” In an unceremonious November 30th day, the web site blog posted their support update stated “Weekend Work Continues.”
December 2013 - What a difference a day makes! On December 1st, USA Today reported, White House claims success on HealthCare.gov repairs. The article quotes Jeffrey Zients, the president’s appointee to fix the website’s problems as saying, “The bottom line is health care.gov on December first is night and day from where it was October first. The site is now stable and operating at its intended capacity at greatly improved performance.” The overload problem solution was solved much like waiting too long in a telephone queue, leave your email and they will get back to you.
HHS is reporting, through November, 364,682 people nationwide had signed up for health insurance through either the federal or state exchanges and the state exchanges enrolled 79,391 in October and another 227,479 in November.
Detroit Free Press ran a nice report breaking down the numbers for the site, Healthcare.gov enrollments soared in November.
Time will only tell what January and the New Year will bring. Open enrollment will end on March 31, 2014 and they are still quite short of their 7 million goal. But at least the project teams won’t be working overtime on the holidays.
Happy New Year, Healthcare.gov.