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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.

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Comments

Submitted by Nicole on
The fact that no one bothered to properly research load balancing heavy traffic and the infrastructure they would need to do this is a perfect reason why people hate giving money to the government to be used inefficiently. There are tons of examples out there, from twitter to facebook on the super-high and complex end, to more simple things like survey monkey and other form-based sites. If this had happened anywhere but in government, every single tech person involved in this debacle would be fired for this. Unfortunately, that rarely happens in government, so bad people stay in and we can expect more of the same.
Submitted by Tracy Perkins on
I set up an account in August. I have not been able to log in. I requested help with user name and password, though I have it written down. I received a message saying information would be sent to my email account. Nothing ever came.
Submitted by Linda on
Please work on the creating account, security question page. I keep getting an error telling me I must answer with three different answers, which I have been doing for the last two weeks. I see you have now added a sign up by phone. I prefer to go ahead and complete online as I was told that I would still have to create a site even if I applied by phone. Thanks.
Submitted by Rebecca on
The biggest problem I have had is that the system is NOT saving a large chunk of the info I input! The 'Save & Continue' is not working in~ 1/2 the application. Also, if I'm inputing something & it just has the option of 'Continue', info will not be saved. I have inputed the same info dozens of times in the last several weeks hoping that one time it will work ----horribly frustrating....I did an on-the-phone application the first week & wonder how that is progressing & how do I found out the status of my app?? I would love to get to the point where I can actually review coverage options!! I did notice improvements in the system in the first 1 or 2 but since then it seems I have not progressed at all in the process.
Submitted by Joe on
What is this costing us as american citizens who ultimately pay the bill. What was the original quote and where are we now. What will be the cost of the "experts" being called in to fix the problems. Our company would have fired the whole bunch of you for incompetence way before now!
Submitted by Marc on
I'd like to know if any of the contracts had penalties for failing to deliver on time, From what I read it's the opposite, failure to deliver resulted in rewards (doubling (or quadrupling of the original contract amounts).
Submitted by Newton on
I would like to join a plan.
Submitted by likebillmurrayingroundhogday on
Please fix it. I opened one account that wouldn't let me verify my identity, even though I answered the questions correctly. I verified my identity over the phone with Experian and the site continued to show me as unverified, so I uploaded my driver's license, and now that application has been "pending" for days. (It won't let me try verifying online again.) I opened a second account and verified my identity online -- with the same questions that wouldn't let me be verified previously. When I finally got to the end of the application and thought I'd be able to shop, it was a no go. I've now filled out that same application multiple times and even though there are hitches and glitches, I do manage to get to the point where I should be able to shop. However, once at that point, there is no place for me to shop! The system just kicks me back to starting the application again. It's like "Groundhog Day." It's unbelievable. If not for the fact that my family qualifies for a premium subsidy, I'd just bag it and go to a commercial health insurance website. In fact, if this isn't fixed, I may do just that and switch over to this system later, when it's fixed. Hope you can get it together in time for 2014. This is doing more harm to the ACA than the Tea Party has done.
Submitted by Bobbie on
I registered Two months ago to avoid any problems & have waited for the opportunity to get more affordable Health Care as I am 58. My husband is 77, Retired and on Medicare. We have been married for 39 years and he has a lot of medical issues with fixed income. He has been in the "Doughnut Hole" since the 1st of March. I just paid $371 for ONE Medications. I cannot eve Log On to look at my available plans. When I called for help, there was none. I was told to try in the less busy time of 11PM to 7AM. It is now 3:30 AM. I have been trying many times everyday. I have even changed my log in User Name. None of them work. The only time I go to the Dr. is for Wellness Visits. If you ever figure this out my e-mail is [email address withheld for privacy]. I would love to see the plans & prices & get started!
Submitted by Gary on
I can't shop for health ins. for Tenn. Site gets stuck.
Submitted by Nancy on
I have been able to work my way online up to the point of "View Options Results". Whenever I click that green button however, all I get is a blank page. I believe I am eligible to sign up for insurance as I am currently both unemployed and uninsured.
Submitted by Marilyn on
Some of the Live chat individuals do not answer questions! Just give canned answers! Need to be able to return to various parts of the application such as "Income" to update information even after submitting the application. Do you want gross income or net after taxes and other deductions from payroll? The program does not specify! Also, can't change from joint application to individual application for me and my spouse - one of us may keep our existing coverage and we need to decide on what's available on the marketplace for each of us, individually or jointly. Good luck with your improvements. The program is tedious and not very clear - unlike the tax programs where you can go forward and backward easily - make changes to see how different answers affects the amount of return while still being honest.
Submitted by John on
I followed the link to the Kaiser foundation tool and was relieved to see that I would qualify for a plan that is a huge improvement over what I have now at much lower cost. However, I tried just now (after 1am), twice, to create an account on healthcare.gov and I still couldn't, as usual. I am hopeful that this problem will get fixed at some point before the 12/15/2013 deadline so I can get coverage to start on 1/1/2014. Thanks and good luck with the repairs.
Submitted by Arun on
There is a simple way to control the traffic - declare that people with a birthday on a odd day can enroll on an odd current date. People with a birthday on an even day, can enroll on a even current date. This will immediately cut the traffic in half, and people will know that they only need wait one day and come back tomorrow to get through.
Submitted by Cal on
You should switch to a paper backup system. Here's a note on the topic: It is unrealistic to think that 500 million lines of code can be 'fixed' in a week or two or a month or two. I fix software messes like this for a living and the best advice I can give you is to switch to paper. When Vermont ran into web problems, they did, so the idea is not that far out. Healthcare.gov should ask you for your address, then send you forms via the US mail to fill out and then forward to your chosen insurance company. The rest of the site should be taken offline and made usable only by your telephone support line and insurance brokers. Otherwise, you are headed for a train wreck.
Submitted by Ali Ibrahim on
Keep up the good job... The People who need affordable healthcare will wait because the alternative is no insurance and debt. Comparing Healthcare.gov to the way one purchased insurance in the individual market is not even close.
Submitted by Alison on
As this is very new, many people want to surf the site Before creating an account: see the plans & get an idea of costs. This can be particularly important for individuals anticipating a change in their employment, or early retiring at age 62.
Submitted by Susan on
I cannot get past "FIND RESULTS OF MARKETPLACE ELIGIBILITY". The link does not work therefore I cannot enroll into a plan.
Submitted by Connie on
Why can't there be a simple website that allows us to see plans, benefits, costs, co-pays, deductibles WITHOUT signing up? I don't need Obamacare, but one of my sons might; I'd like to know what is offered and at what cost. I've also worked with insurance issues as a former personnel officer and would love to actually know what I'm talking about when encouraging friends, neighbors and family to think about buying health insurance. As it is now, it's like some huge secret that the American public is shielded from. It really allows doubts, incorrect information and even purposeful lies to abound. I'd be glad to be an advocate, but not unless I can check out information for myself. Sincerely, Connie [Name and address withheld for privacy].
Submitted by Will on
It is interesting that you claim that you didn't first notice the issues until the launch. Why didn't your testing reveal some of the more obvious defects, like the problems with the security questions?
Submitted by Brian on
I've tried literally a dozen times to complete my application, without success. Intially it told me I had failed to certify my identity. Now the site freezes when I enter my information about my employer and my coverage there.
Submitted by TMLutas on
Have you people never read The Mythical Man Month? It's the hottest new thing on late software projects. It was originally published in 1975. In case you don't have time here's the key takeaway for you: Adding people to late software projects makes them later.
Submitted by Cal on
Since inception, I've been blocked from creating an account. I tried moments ago, (Oct 21, 2013 at 12:30 EST) and I yet again received "Please note that two or more answers to the security questions cannot be the same. You must provide distinct answers to the chosen security questions." I do not have two security questions the same. Let me repeat, I do not have two security questions the same. I have tried on three browsers, IE and Firefox included, so I know the problem is not at my end.
Submitted by Ethan on
Repeal Obamacare now, that is the real solution. It was rammed through the American people and it needs to be repealed.
Submitted by Sue on
Below is the message I get when I click on the lick to log into my account. I'm not typing the address in, I'm clicking on the link: Info icon The webpage cannot be found HTTP 400 Most likely causes: •There might be a typing error in the address. •If you clicked on a link, it may be out of date. What you can try: Retype the address. Go back to the previous page. Go to and look for the information you want. More information

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