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

A Technology Surge for HealthCare.gov

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Today, we are announcing key steps the Department is taking as part of a tech surge to continue to improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov. 

First, I am very pleased to announce we are bringing management expert and former CEO and Chairman of two publicly traded companies Jeff Zients on board to work in close cooperation with our HHS team to provide management advice and counsel to the project.  Jeff has led some of the country’s top management firms, providing private sector companies around the world with best practices in management, strategy and operations.  He has a proven track record as Acting Director at the Office of Management and Budget and as the nation’s first Chief Performance Officer.  Working alongside our team and using his rich expertise and management acumen, Jeff will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations. 

We’ve also brought in additional experts and specialists drawn from within government, our contractors, and industry, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies.  These reinforcements include a handful of Presidential Innovation Fellows.  This new infusion of talent will bring a powerful array of subject matter expertise and skills, including extensive experience scaling major IT systems.  This effort is being marshaled as part of a cross-functional team that is working aggressively to diagnose parts of HealthCare.gov that are experiencing problems, learn from successful states, prioritize issues, and fix them. 

In addition to our efforts to ramp up capacity and expertise with the country’s leading innovators and problem solvers, we have secured additional staff and commitments from our contractors, including CGI, the lead firm responsible for the federally facilitated marketplace technology.  They are providing and directing the additional resources needed for this project within the provisions of their existing contract. 

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress on improving HealthCare.gov.  As we work to fix the site, we encourage Americans to continue to sign up for quality affordable coverage in four ways: by phone, online, by-mail and in person.  Millions of Americans are already benefitting from the law, through increased benefits like preventative care at no additional costs and drug discounts for seniors.  We believe the product of the law – affordable health insurance – is good, but we won’t stop until every American who wants it gains access to these new options for care.


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/.

Join the Conversation


Submitted by MARY on
I am self employed, and had to drop my insurance because it was too expensive, besides which, it didn't cover enough. I went on healthcare.gov and went through the entire form just to get to the information about the policies. The ones I could afford were junk - high costs out of pocket and extremely limited network, most of which required me to travel three and four hours away. The first screen for Coventry, for example, is complete lie. When you get into the actual coverage you see where your out of pocket expenses were something quite different. So my question is this: Where's my single payer option? When you - Kathleen - made the policy that allowed medicaid expansion, using tax dollars to pay unscrupulous corporations to bilk the consumer with shoddy "products," you set the healthcare stage as a swamp of opportunists. I live and work in Kansas, and when Sam declined the funds for Medicaid expansion, he left most of us in the muck. Sam is using your own policy to "offer" health care "options." You allowed the Business of health to be the focal point of the policy, not The People's Health. For Profit health care is given yet another tool, by way of law, to squeeze more out of an already declining economy for the middle classes. Your legacy will be the example of what didn't work.
Submitted by Karen on
I am a Registered Nurse and have been an RN for 32 years in the hospitals.. I am very familiar with what the cost of being uninsured and the under insured is to a human being. I have been uninsured since 2008 and have not been to see a doctor or a dentist for myself since 2008. I do not have employer sponsored health insurance as the jobs I have been able to get since 2008 have been temporary without benefits. I have watched Obama care and the ACA unfold with eager eyes so that one day, my health benefits would NOT be employer tied where I could be cancelled if I left my job or they terminated me because I am 58 yrs old and cost to much too insure and my experience cost to much to give a fair salary to. I need to point this out. It was not Sec. Sibelius or Pre3s. Obama who cancelled all of your insurance policies- it was greedy private insurance companies who stand more(millions of dollars) to loose if this country goes to National health Insurance. What this means is that Insurance Company CEO's will no longer be making their multimillion dollar salaries while average Americans and their families worry where their next dime will come, if they get sick will they have the money to pay for care. The Insurance CEO's will no longer have the money to pay lobbyist in Washington millions to sabotage an affordable health care insurance plan. I think before we go blaming Ms Sibelius and Pres. Obama we need to look at who has the most money to loose if this ACA doesn't go through I am currently in school taking a graduate level class in Nursing Informatics, we are learning about the project management of an IT project in the adoption of electronic medical record in a hospital. One of the recurrent themes of this course is when setting up a large sale IT project is to expect problems in the Systems Development Life Cycle. Perfection does not happen over night and doesn't happen the first time around. It is not the job of Pres. Obama and Ms Sibelius to be hands on with the design, instillation and engineering of this IT project. That is what this Healthcare.gov website is- an IT project. Their job was to tell the Management steering committee team what they want and needed and the management team's job was to build it according to specifications and provide the technical know how- the mainframes, portals, web pages, coaxial cables, programming language. Those Congress men and women this Thursday during the Energy and Commerce Committee oversight hearing (and I want to be clear and transparent) should be embarrassed and ashamed in this day and computer age at their IT stupidity, their behavior, lack of respect for others( Ms Sibelius) and their wasting of our tax payer dollars for such nonsense. I think that is all I have to post. Thank you for reading this. This is my opinion and this is still America where I can voice my opinion.
Submitted by Mari on
No one expected the government heads to be hands on, but it was ultimately their failure for the mess that was released October 1. In IT terms, they were the business-side sponsors of the project and they are accountable to the customers (the American people) for the release. Project management 101. Suggest you look at the PMP curriculum (and PMBOK).
Submitted by Smitty on
After setting up an account and completing an application on 10/17, I am still waiting to review my insurance results. I thought I would try again tonight after many failed attempts, chat discussions and telephone calls. I finally ended up here reading comments from various individuals with their many frustrations. My conclusion as it was when I first used the site is that this is a good example of a totally failed project. My best recommendation is to shut it down until it functions 100% as it should have from Day 1. You are only creating more frustrated individuals whom have lost all confidence in this system by allowing usage of a totally inadequate system. May God be with the designers and coders. Management should be out the door.
Submitted by Renee on
Before signing up for Obamacare. Please read the benefit summary. The button feature is there but we can not access it. I would like to know the benefit summary before I pay for a plan. I want to make sure that the hospitals and doctors in my area are actually accepting Obamacare. The provider button also doesn't work.
Submitted by Tom Paul on
I see this website as the most vissible public face of the ACA. The other user interfaces are not very useful and arguably not very practical. Another one of my opinions is that aesthetically and ergonomically, the website could possibly be improved as follows: - Separate more clearly the Informational from operational - Separate operational more clearly into Subsidy Application and Health Plan purchase - Subsidy Application and Health Plan purchase to be asynchronous if not already are - Reduce footprint of the operational screens. And could we later get smartphone/iPhone apps ? Think about some of these things - - - again ?
Submitted by Liane on
I have been trying to sign up since October 1st and it is 5 weeks later! I had a user name and password before the Healthcare opening date of October 1. I went online that morning to sign up. No luck! I answered one of the identity qualifying questions wrong. You see, there was a time that I held a lot of jobs and I answered "yes" to something I should have said "no" to. I was advised to call Equifax(?) which I did and they asked me more tie breaking questions. They said I passed, to go back into the website and apply. I did and I was asked by Healtcare.gov to upload identity verifying documents. I tried for a week and FINALLY the document uploaded on 10/5, Saturday. I never got any confirmation via email so I called Monday the 7th and gave my information over the phone to apply online. Subsequently I tried to go onto my Healthcare.gov account but couldn't. Up until now, I can't log in! Now I am told that my over-the-phone application never worked. So, here it is, October 30th and I am doing another over the phone application. Please wish me luck!
Submitted by LoveLiberty on
All of you people in the government should be and CAN be prosecuted for racketeering and extortion. Another big bloated piece of crap to intrude and plunder the people of America. Frankly, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the extra paperwork, attorney fees to get taxes done and mostly, your arrogance in thinking you know what's BEST for everyone. You all are breaking the laws of God and the Constitution. The millions of other Americans are sick of it too and you won't believe how many are getting educated and learning how lawless you are. Plundering the people for their labor is EXTORTION and COMMUNISM.
Submitted by Michael on
I have been able to set up an account, verify my eligibility and shop for a new plan in Wisconsin (using the federally run website). While the interface is not ideal (far too much screen real estate taken up with the details of each plan -- need to see more on one screen), it's an enormous first step toward a competitive insurance marketplace! No doubt if Congress had actually worked to properly fund this program, we would have better results faster. Keep up the good (and no doubt hard) work!
Submitted by Anthony on
Why wasn't the development contract given to AMERICAN's? Second why is the Healthcare.gov webserver using SHAREWARE/FREEWARE Apache Web Server? Why isn't the system using the FEDERALLY CERTIFIED AZURE system and cloud data center service from Verizon who controls key National Access Points such as MAE East and MAE West along with an OC-48 backbone? How can the government have so many University educated idiots?
Submitted by Mari on
To say you are continuing to improve the consumer experience is spin. The site was not ready for production use, and was obviously released only to meet a deadline despite the knowledge that it was nonfunctional. Equally ludicrous are your department's claims that you didn't anticipate the volume as the administration, of which you are a part, has often touted how many millions of people would be able to obtain health insurance as a result of this law. As one with decades of experience on both the business and IT development sides of a major multi-national corporation, the failures are quite obvious. Requirements were not elicited and fully articulated in a timely manner. Test plans (unit, regression, user acceptance, etc.) and actual testing and defect management were faulty and/or nonexistent. The project managers failed, the developers couldn't be held accountable, and the government (business side) leadership was completely absent. Ultimately, you personally, and others in a leadership role on both the government and IT sides of the project, allowed this expensive development to fail. Only you know whether that was because of indifference, incompetence, or benign neglect. Regardless, you and project leaders should be held accountable and should be removed from your positions.
Submitted by LD on
Why didn't they put thus guy in initially, if he is already part of this big gov we have...."As you know, Jeff Z, is...WELL he has only been there in HHS, with KS? Duh! Also, I concur with someone below, that say's this could be a conspiracy. BUT, if the gov had not shut down...This AHC would be shut down. Thank you Cruz... I am still trying to get my quote, but I have patience bc, my COBRA ran out and is too expensive.
Submitted by Kenneth on
If there is a state system that is working properly, then the fastest way to get the Federal system working properly is to acquire the computer programs from that state system. Should the state system be designed to only handle a limited volume, then create multiple Federal systems where each group (e.g. group by first letter of last name or some other identifier) would access a particular system (e.g. www.Obamacare_A, Obamacare_QR and etc.)
Submitted by Robert on
Please tell all of the complainers that an outside contractor was hired to set up the system and the outside, private contractor failed to perform. Isn't that what happened? And if more states had been smart enough to handle the program themselves, the job at the Federal level would have much more manageable. Has anyone ever had troubles with any other new system or device on it's initial rollout? I never want to be first to buy new technology. History is replete with examples of roll outs that have have glitches. And those are much less complex than this one. The program is working very well in many places. Be patient. The computers will be working well at the Federal level very soon.
Submitted by Mari on
It is the responsibility of the organization to have the appropriate project management oversight in place to ensure the project is delivered on time, within budget, and in accordance with the requirements. That's project management 101. As with any development project, the "business" side (in this case, the government agency who contracted for the project - HHS) must own accountability for the failures.
Submitted by Carole on
Insurers have CANCELED American's individual health care policies as of 1 1 2014, telling us to sign up for Obamacare. I've been on every day and can't make progress. And NOW we are supposed to sit on hold and fill out OVER THE PHONE a 30 minute survey to get insurance? And we don't even know if it will be posted right with the insurer? PEOPLE WILL DIE! ;I repeat: PEOPLE will DIE who have pre-existing conditions and have been force-canceled by Blue Cross Blue Shield. "We can keep our doctor and insurance" - sure, President Obama. I want an answer to this post!
Submitted by Lucci on
"Insurers have CANCELED American's individual health care policies as of 1 1 2014, telling us to sign up for Obamacare. " You're making no sense. why would your insurance cancel your existing plan. I have health insurance. Nobody tell me to cancel and enroll in ACA.
Submitted by Anonymous on
More money for CGI? Shame on you.
Submitted by Ellie on
Dear Secretary Sebelius, I'm very much in support of the Affordable Care Act. It's a big improvement in the way we provide and manage health care, although as a liberal Democrat, I still hope that eventually we progress to a single payor system like those of other advanced democracies around the world. I've spent 35 years in high tech. Many, many people in high tech are commenting privately and talk shows that the problems experienced by the online exchanges are due to architectural design flaws and substandard coding practices that could have been avoided because these problems are well-understood in the industry and have already been solved multiple times. My suggestion is that you assess what the newly-recruited "Tech Surge" experts are telling you. Then be open about how the problems originated: how the website requirements were written and by whom, and how the two main contracting firms, CGI and [USSI?] were chosen. Be open about the problems the software architecture experts you have now brought in have found, and what your plan is to implement the changes they suggest that will fix the issues. Give the American people a condensed but *accurate* overview of the technical problems and their planned solutions, and all the Republicans will have to stand down, because none of them knows enough to critique the issue at that level.
Submitted by Thomas on
Your comment has been queued for review by site administrators and will be published after approval. "Transparency like youve never seen , President Obama "
Submitted by Thomas on
My first comment was deleted "transparency like you've never seen President Obama " https://mollom.com/web-service-privacy-policy
Submitted by Thomas Kaspar on
Since President Obama never knew it had major problems until yesterday , lol , How does it feel to be tossed under the Obama bus Kathleen Sebelius ? Must be getting crowded down there !
Submitted by Kurt on
I understand you are a supporter of immigration reform. How are you going to deal with healthcare for the millions of undocumented? The short answer - it's not our problem. HHS is in the business of serving Americans, not foreigners. If we open our healthcare to everybody on the planet, it will get kind of expensive for Americans, don't you think? So I urge to drop the idea of including illegal aliens in the plan. You should be supporting enforcement of our laws, not the circumvention thereof.
Submitted by tara on
i still don't understand why this the way it is in the first place?
Submitted by De Ann on
Bag ObamaCare. We are throwing money at something that will not work. What a mess.