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HealthCare.gov: An Update on Progress

Friday, November 1, 2013

Today, Jeff Zients offered an update on our efforts to improve HealthCare.gov.  In Jeff’s own words –

“This was a week where we made progress, and also ran into some roadblocks that slowed us down.  The focus is on working through our punch list, one by one. Our bottom line continues to be that we are on a path to improve HealthCare.gov each week and to meet our target by the end of November.”

Here is an update on where we are at the end of this week:

  • QSSI, the general contractor named last week, is now firmly in place. They have brought in their top talent -- a deep team with expertise across a full range of technology and program management. 
  • There is a rigorous management structure that is focused on prioritizing the punch list and real time decision making, 24/7. 
  • With QSSI, we have established dedicated teams to fix and monitor both software and infrastructure issues.  There are four core teams: 
  1. Application and software – this team addresses glitches so the site is faster and smoother for users;
  2. Infrastructure and hardware  – this team is focused on adding capacity and redundancy to minimize disruptions;
  3. Security – this team is continuously working to ensure rigorous protections of the system and its data;
  4. Monitoring and troubleshooting – this team is focused on analyzing system performance and spotting problems early.

With these teams in place, we have the right management structure and accountability to make the necessary progress. Unfortunately, we hit a frustrating roadblock this week with hardware problems at the Verizon data center that hosts the site. Last Sunday, we experienced a failure in a networking component in the data center and a related incident happened mid-week. We’ve fixed the failed hardware, and we will be making further hardware upgrades to the system to improve stability and add redundancy this weekend. We will provide an update once the upgrade is complete, but make no mistake, the hardware failure was a setback and was very frustrating.

That said, we have made progress this week in crossing items off the punch list, fixing bugs and improving site performance.  The site works better today for users than it did last week and we’re putting tools in place to allow us to track our progress against metrics.

The most important near term metric is response time.  Response time is how fast the system responds to user requests.  For the first few weeks, we estimate that users were waiting on average 8 seconds for pages across the site to load. This is an absolutely unacceptable amount of time. In fact, this metric is measured in milliseconds, not seconds. Yesterday, the average response time on the site appeared to be less than 1000 milliseconds.  This is a more than 80 percent improvement and the team is taking aggressive steps to bring response time down further.

Overall, the site is getting better as we work through the punch list. Just last night we made a batch of fixes that improve the application process, increase system speed and efficiency and begin to address insurer concerns around 834 notices.  And we have another round of patches and fixes planned for this weekend to cross more items off the punch list.

It’s important to remember that every day consumers are coming to the site, shopping and signing up. And while we all want the pace of progress to be as fast as possible, It is inevitable that there will be unexpected roadblocks. But we have the right team in place and a relentless focus on speed and execution.

We will measure our progress, hold teams accountable, and drive the upgrades that improve the consumer experience. The site will get better week by week, and by the end of November, the site will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.


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 Angela on
How about getting some beta testers on board?
Submitted by R on
600+ million and 3 years! Pathetic. Quit blaming the GOP and Fox news. Obama signed this disaster into law. The buck stops with him.
Submitted by J on
Obamacare is going to be the ruin of America.but Obama will NEVER admit it is a bad product that the majority OF WE THE PEOPLE do not want it. Even Obama himself doesn't want it. That speaks volumes. Karma can't come soon enough.
Submitted by willy on
you all do what you need to do - I will not be participating in this mess
Submitted by Sandy on
Today I still cannot view my results. I have called twice and my issue was escalated twice. I just want to know what plans I may select from.
Submitted by Greg on
This is never going to work. These people give speeches saying it is getting better when it is not. They say it is secure when the people who wrote the code told them it had not been tested and was a high security risk to go online Oct 1. They are in denial and have no ability to do anything except give speeches. Speeches won't fix this website.
Submitted by Calvin Bradford on
Cannot get my identity verified?
Submitted by Natalie on
I am stuck at the point where I "enroll". When will I know this is fixed. Do I need to keep trying or will it just go through eventually
Submitted by Florencine on
It is also telling me to verify my identity which I sent my personal info several times electronically. But I get the message processing my application and not complete , I have this issue since October 10th. I sent my personal info through the web site and clicked on pdf file. I have never been able to shop for insurance. I cannot see that because of being stuck on application and like application not complete and I know I've completed and signed my name electronically. I called the 800 number and was told to send my documents in to Kentucky instead of through the website. Don't know if this is still part of the glitch or not.
Submitted by Terry on
I've been slowly working on my application because of time limitations. Everytime I start to work on the application again, I have to start at the beginning and work forward to get to where I left off. Some screens are filled in but I have to resubmit other info like social security numbers. This is frustrating and time consuming and definately not a feature.
Submitted by mrlna on
Logging onto and using this site has been the worst computing experience in my life (excluding the crashing of one of my computers several years ago). I surely hope the designers of this system will forego receiving payment for services rendered until they have fixed all of the problems encountered by so many trying to use this site.
Submitted by Beryl on
My original log-in didn't work so I created a new log-in and had no problem at all logging in and going through the entire application and enrolling in medical and dental care. YAY! Now fix the payment link and I am good!
Submitted by DK on
I am self-employed Virginia resident, and I tried to apply on healthcare.gov Monday night between 11 p.m. and into midnight. I was able to navigate the screens, input the information, and then when I got to the last step, checking the info I had input, it kept circling me back multiple times over the same answers, sometimes requiring me to fill them in again. When I got to the "Almost Finished" page, where one would sign, it displayed two buttons, a green one to "Save and Return Later" and a greyed-out button that said something like "Continue and Verify Identity," which seemed odd, because on my profile page, it indicated my identity was verified, with a green checkmark. I called the 800 number and the rep said they were having technical difficulties and to try again on Wednesday. So I have an incomplete application, an ID No., and apparently have to keep trying. Fortunately, I have time to switch from my current BCBS plan - and don't get me started on BCBS - their doublespeak/contradictory letters have caused my eyes to glaze over.
Submitted by Neerja Bylsma on
Folks have been enrolled and received their eligibility notices for a couple of weeks now. However the next step is to Enroll. You are supposed to get a punch list of items to get the enrollment process going. That has been a blank web frame since October 18th. Please could you provide some answers on when this will be fixed. The website now shows the prices of the plans available. However details of the plans are missing. Secondly it would be helpful to get age specific data on the plans which is available without logging on. Is this fix planned and when will this be available.
Submitted by ophelia bradford on
Need insurance
Submitted by Karen on
My identity has been pending verification since 10/9. Will I get an email confirmation once I am verified or is this an issue on the punch list. The save and continue feature still doesn't work.
Submitted by Donald on
Jeff Zients sounds like he has a handle on the situation. Too bad someone like him was not put in charge 3 years ago. There seems to be a lot of re-engineering going on. That raises the issue of backwards compatibility. At some point HHS/CMS needs to just tell the people who created accounts on healthcare.gov and started the enrollment process before some date, eg before Oct 15 or Oct 22 whatever, that their accounts and applications are in hopeless zombie states and that they should start over using a new email address to provide a unique key via first name / last name / email address tuple. HHS/CMS would be doing them a favor if they just purged any accounts created early on that didn't make it through to enrollment.
Submitted by Natalie on
Are you even aware that there is a log-in problem?? When are you going to fix that? Some of us have not been about to log into our accounts/applications now for almost 3 weeks??? Had no problem logging in the first two weeks and then suddenly...couldn't log-in...Still can't...(FYI) .....
Submitted by David on
Have you seriously considered the offer from the open source community to assist in reviewing code? As a technology veteran (Google, Adobe) I strongly recommend you pursue that option. There is no downside and a possibility for significantly improved code.
Submitted by Greg on
I don't know of all the technical issues however by experience I know of certain things that can be done that reduces significantly the wait time. The most common issue is the information access in the back end, usually this is done by using a message broker (MB) to access databases that are not optimized for this kind or work. Targeted and highly optimized data marts circomvents this issue, the same technique used for BI, however adapted to WEB access. HIPAA conformity can be a nightmare for security management specially for large amount of data. What can be done is to split the data into simplified forms, where each component does not have to be HIPAA compliant, then when the data reaches the targeted destination it can be put back together.
Submitted by Pasquale on
Two more teams you may need: 1) Configuration Management/Build/Source Control team to insure change is controlled, updates are backward compatible and versions of subsystems can communicate seamlessly. Fallback is essential. 2) Triage team for existing enrollees. There are now tens of thousands of user accounts many of which cannot be accessed or are in error. Tools and a team need to be in-place to assess access-denied for false-positives, create verification & data consistency tools, formulate strategies for recovery and reach out to or field user issues. -- Just my 2 cents. I am a data feeds Subject Matter Expert at eBay and Configuration Manager at Amtrak.
Submitted by Don on
Jeff, You say you are crossing things off the punch list, but are you also adding things? How many punch list items did you start with? How many punch list items do you have now? How many punch list items are classified as performance? How many punch list items are classified as functional correctness wither missing or wrong? On performance, doesn't user performance depend on the customer's Internet connect speed and browser performance? At what point in November will the end to end test begin? That is, at what point will the punch list and changes be frozen? How many weeks of end to end testing is prudent at this point given the heightened visibility and importance of this project?
Submitted by Tom on
My personal information was released to a third party. See link. I want my personal information and account deleted from the website. http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/02/exclusive-healthcare-gov-users-warn-of-security-risk-breach-of-privacy/
Submitted by Carrie Sapp on
There are so many optimizations that could be done on the front end to improve performance - just mashing, minifying, and compressing JavaScript, CSS, and image files would be simple fixes that would yield significant improvements. Minifying and gzipping this file reduces the file size to 451 BYTES, yielding a 99% savings: https://www.healthcare.gov/js/all.js Minifying and gzipping this file reduces the file size to 41kb, a 50% savings: https://www.healthcare.gov/css/all.css I can't see the page now because the site is down, but the first sign up page is over 2 megabytes (!!) in size, and requires 64 (!!!!!) separate JavaScript file downloads: https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/global/en_US/registration#signUpStepOne And why in the world am I downloading both of these 2 files on a full-sized desktop (PC, Firefox): https://www.healthcare.gov/css/style-mobile.css https://www.healthcare.gov/css/print.css Just a few suggestions...
Submitted by Tyrone Brown on
Keep up the good work.