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Making a difference in how people find health information, today and into the future.

Doing Better: Making Improvements to HealthCare.gov

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Over the past two and a half weeks, millions of Americans visited HealthCare.gov to look at their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act. In that time, nearly half a million applications for coverage have been submitted from across the nation. This tremendous interest – with over 19 million unique visits to date to HealthCare.gov– confirms that the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage, and want to find it online.

Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans.  Some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion. The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better. 

Aside from the difficulties since launching the site, there are parts of the overall system that have proved up to the task.  The “Data Hub,” component, which provides HealthCare.gov with information that aids in determining eligibility for qualified health plans, is working.  Individuals have been able to verify their eligibility for credits, enabling them to shop for and enroll in low or even no-cost health plans.

WHAT HAPPENED – WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON

Since launch, when we first recognized these issues, we have been working around the clock to make improvements.  We have updated the site several times with new code that includes bug fixes that have greatly improved the HealthCare.gov experience. The initial wave of interest stressed the account service, resulting in many consumers experiencing trouble signing up, while those that were able to sign up sometimes had problems logging in.

In response, we have made a number of improvements to the account service.  Initially, we implemented a virtual “waiting room,” but many found this experience to be confusing.  We continued to add more capacity in order to meet demand and execute software fixes to address the sign up and log in issues, stabilizing those parts of the service and allowing us to remove the virtual “waiting room.”  Today, more and more individuals are successfully creating accounts, logging in, and moving on to apply for coverage and shop for plans.  We're proud of these quick improvements, but we know there's still more work to be done. We will continue to conduct regular maintenance nearly every night to improve the experience.

TECH SURGE

To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering.

Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.  We're also putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them.  We are also defining new test processes to prevent new issues from cropping up as we improve the overall service and deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis.

Most importantly, we want to hear from you, and make sure that your experience with HealthCare.gov is a positive one.  If you have any comments, either complimentary or critical, please let us know by sharing your feedback at https://www.healthcare.gov/connect/.  We've already heard so many stories of individuals getting health insurance for the first time, and we are dedicated to making that possible for all Americans.

 

This post is no longer accepting comments. If you want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, please visithhs.gov/healthcare. If you have question about or need assistance with health insurance enrollment, please visithttps://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/.

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Comments

Submitted by SID on
AREAS NEEDING IMPROVEMENT - A FEW SUGGESTIONS BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE TRYING TO REGISTER FOR INSURANCE. 1. MY EXPERIENCE, AND I SUSPECT MANY OTHERS, IS TO TYPE IN WWW.HEALTHCARE.COM INSTEAD OF .GOV. OF COURSE, THE .COM SITE IS MADE TO LOOK AS OFFICIAL AS YOUR SITE IN AN ATTEMPT TO CONFUSE AND REDIRECT POTENTIAL ACA REGISTRANTS. CAN YOU REQUIRE WEBSITES WITH VERY SIMILAR ADDRESSES TO YOURS, TO DISPLAY A PROMINENT ALERT THAT THIS IS NOT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S OFFICIAL WEB SITE FOR THE ACA, YOU NEED TO GO TO WWW.HEALTHCARE.GOV 2. ONCE YOU CREATE A PW AND USER NAME AND HAVE STARTED AN APPLICATION, IT IS UNNECESSARILY CONFUSING WHEN YOU WANT TO RETURN TO YOUR APPLICATION. I CREATED AN APPLICATION WITH LOG-IN PW AND USER NAME. WHEN I RETURN TO THE HEALTHCARE.GOV HOME PAGE THERE IS A LARGE LOG-IN BOX AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. BUT THAT LOG-IN PORTAL DOES NOT RECOGNIZE MY LOG IN INFO. I NEED TO FIRST CLICK ON MARYLAND AND USE A LOG-IN PORTAL FOR MD. THIS PROBLEM IS CONFOUNDED BECAUSE A LOG-IN PORTAL DOES NOT ALWAYS APPEAR ON THE MD. HOME PAGE. 3. WHEN CHOOSING AN ANSWER TO THE SECURITY QUESTIONS , THE FIRST 3 CHOICES APPEAR IN THE ANSWER BOX (NEED TO SCROLL DOWN TO SEE 4TH CHOICE). THE ANSWER BOX NEEDS TO BE LARGER SO AS TO DISPLAY ALL CHOICES. 4. WHEN I APPLIED FOR INSURANCE AND CREATED LOG IN INFO., I WAS SUPPOSE TO RECEIVE AN EMAIL WITH A REFERENCE NO. EMAIL NEVER ARRIVED .... TRIED REPEATEDLY TO HAVE EMAIL SENT TO VARIOUS EMAIL ACCOUNTS WITH NO SUCCESS. THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE I NEED TO PROVIDE THAT REF. NUMBER WHEN SUBMITTING DATA FOR VERIFICATION PROCESS.
Submitted by Modibo Soumare on
First step is to look at the data model.
Submitted by Alan Shapiro on
While you are fixing the problems, why don't you create spreadsheets with information for each state. This could show the plans, coverage, options, and costs. This is not a solution but will give those interested time to consider the plans while they are waiting for the bugs to be fixed.
Submitted by g on
First someone should read the law so we can figure out what's in it. Then we can spend 1/2 billion$ writing code. Then you just need to get the unengaged, permanent dependent class that is the democrat's base to sign up for something that was already free to them to begin with.
Submitted by Tom on
Great use of tax payer revenue. Please stop wasting our money with incompetent actions. What a joke. Your "tech surge" will cost us even more.
Submitted by Mohammad on
resetting passwords on the phone with a service technician? how unsecure is that? what were the verified e-mail address and security questions for?
Submitted by Tim on
I have noticed and improvement and was able to complete an application, although not before calling the 800 number. And, it is not clear why it worked, except the second time I got a different window for my electronic signature. Things seem inconsistent, not working the same every time. Also, I don't think enough is be said about the 800 number customer service representatives. The calls are answered quickly , and they are courteous and helpful. People should be encouraged to call them if they have a problem. Finally, I would like to be able to compare details of available plans without have and application .
Submitted by Alex Horvath on
I was able to easily apply online via CoveredCalifornia, our state's ACA site. However, I did notice that the site would not open properly on Google Chrome browser (the preferred browser of many, many people). It did work perfectly on both Firefox and Internet Explorer. All of that said, I think that phone registration and human outreach are good options for many. Having recently worked in sales with an online company, I can tell you that a la surprising amount of people are not very web-savvy and would likely fail on the Healthcare.gov site even if there were no glitches. [Name and email address withheld for privacy]
Submitted by Lauren on
Having called twice and recd two call backs from the advanced resolutions department, I am disgusted and have NO faith that I will ever be able to see what options are available. No one can give me any answer other than I'm sorry we can't do anything either. It's a total embarrassment to our country that something so anticipated is such a let down!
Submitted by David on
You assumption that people are visiting the site due to interest in insurance is not entirely correct. Americans will face a fine if they do not sign up. This is not interest, it is obligation. Second, where did the money go? What exactly cost upwards of $100 million for this website? Would anyone reasonably conclude that the money was spent on this website? If so, what exactly did we, the taxpayer buy? It is this very kind of mismanagement that makes American's suspicious of the government's ability to manage anything well. Now health care is in the balance. I also noticed that you didn't mention anything about security. You see, I am not falling for this idea that somehow you didn't know how to make this site secure. If any reasonable person had $100 million to spend on a site, security would be world-class. This was a misuse of tax-payer dollars. You know, President Obama could have just set up an application process for the uninsured, verified income and legal status, and offered those people plans. This heavy-handed approach of the ACA has impacted all of us negatively. Rates have soared, benefits have been watered down, and the very ones that were targeted to be helped were excluded when the expansion of Medicaid was voted unconstitutional. Look, when you swing and miss, just admit it. Start again, delay the individual mandate, listen to the millions of Americans that are asking you to do so, and manage this project closely. If you want to cover the uninsured I am all for it. Just leave the rest of us alone.
Submitted by D on
You need to add arrows or other indicators that tell the user to scroll down on the long pages. Reduce the size of the photographs and bring revel ant copy up.
Submitted by Rosalyn on
Still unable to get into Log In It always gives me the same message bad address , I have been trying since Day 1 . I did call several times hoping someone can help This is very frustrating will I ever get into the Log In site
Submitted by Mark on
I'm a Virginia resident. Both my wife and I have tried to create an account at various times of the day (including midnight to 3am) via healthcare.gov, but have yet to be successful since 10/1. This past Friday I pinged the healthcare.gov care rep via IM, they informed me I could call in and create an account that way. Yet when I called in the agent told me that I needed to create an account online first and she couldn't do anything for me. Her beside manner was extremely poor and she hung up on me while I was still asking questions? Another stellar example of beltway bandits and government lifers burning through tax payers dollars on another failed implementation! Sad to say but as far as our experience to-date, the service get's a zero rating. A group of college kids could have knocked this out in a week using opensource and leveraging scale via AWS. Disappointing stuff, we demand better!
Submitted by dan on
Just because it is PC does not mean it is TC (technically correct). You can white wash, colorize, smooth over, spin, play down, minimize, change the focus, provide comforting thoughts, encourage patience, elude confidence and on and on. The cheer leaders are front and center, this is their baby - but in reality, computers never lie. It either works or it does not - you cannot smooth it over. The larger the system, the tighter the design requirement. As with many large system projects, if the front end work is poorly done, then the results are total mess and useless -- time to start over and do it right. When this inevitable conclusion is demonstrated by use (30 million is the target - ha ha), then the cheerleaders will run like rats on a sinking ship, not wanting their name to be associated with this albatross. And dare I ask , why a Canadian firm is heading up this project when there are so many people in the US needing jobs?
Submitted by Joe on
Although the idea was good, the execution of the web site for applying has been a complete disaster and demonstrates the gross incompetence of everyone involved. Large amounts of the software simply does not work (links, buttons etc. do not work). There are loops that consistently give false/contradictory information. Overall it is making everyone involved look like idiots. I hope the congressional investigations force the company who wrote the software to refund all of the money they charged the government (and ban them from any further government contracts) and all of the bureaucrats in HSS involved in this are fired for gross incompetence.
Submitted by Matthew on
Unless you make healthcare free, I cannot afford it.
Submitted by chitra on
would it help, if we set up individual (separate) websites for each state that has to use the federal website?
Submitted by Jed on
For the past week, a new problem cropped up for me, dis-allowing me to create an account. I receive the message: "Your cannot be created at this time because your name (not user name...but real name), and e-mail address are..."NOT UNIQUE ENOUGH". Huh??? Anyone else experiencing this???
Submitted by Sydney on
Yes! I have tried multiple times to create an account, and for about the past week that same notice has been popping up on mine. I had no idea what it meant by that or how I am supposed to fix something like that. So, I decided I would use the live chat feature to ask what was meant by this statement. Basically, the operator told me it was due to glitches on the site, which still makes no sense to me as to why that type of error would be caused by a glitch. The only other piece of information/suggestion I got was that I should try setting up a new email account. This seems like a complete hassel to me. I do not know why, when I already have a valid email account I have had for years, and that I use for almost everything, would all of a sudden not be good or 'unique' enough to use on this site.
Submitted by Larry on
Please just say it like it is instead of spinning the story to make yourselves look like saviors. You are not.
Submitted by Randi on
Incredibly disappointing, and the horrendous design and operation is not confined to healthcare.gov. Speaking from personal experience, medicare.gov is a complete mess, as well.
Submitted by Joe on
I work in the private sector, where results matter. If you worked in the private sector, you would all be fired. Instead, you have unlimited budget to fix your stupid mistakes, and your cabinet secretary and press secretary lie to defend you. It makes me sick. One more nail in the coffin of a free and properous United States of America. Now you can go about deleting this comment and you can continue pretending like the government can do things more efficiently than the private sector.
Submitted by ses327 on
You people are pathetic. What an incredible mess. I can program a web site that will work in less than a day. And so can thousands of others. And certainly not for the hundreds of millions of dollars of public money you have paid for this disgusting fiasco. I have tried every possible combination to try to just see insurance options only for myself. Created 6 different accounts so far. None of them will work. Astounding array of different failure modes. Here -- try this some time on your nice healthcare.gov web site: Simply create an account for an individual. No other family members. No request for subsidies. No SSN. No identity verification needed. Just give me a list of insurance plans with prices. EVEN THIS SIMPLE APPLICATION WILL NOT WORK!!!! Just hangs at the last screen -- says "We will give you your eligibility results after verify your identity." Can't even spell a sentence. Of course, my profile screen says "Identity verified". Unbelievable. I give up. Wish I had never seen this site.
Submitted by bart on
What I do not understand is, why can everyone on this globe enter the site, and keep it busy I, a Dutchman can look at all the states, and see what to do, why don't they let people log in with their Social Security Number instead and then get on...
Submitted by Richard on
It would be neither easy nor appropriate to restrict access to this site by geographic region. What if a US citizen needed to access it while abroad? SSN is not an appropriate user name. It is generally regarded as sensitive information.

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