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

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 G on
I applied, and was approved, for insurance through the marketplace. The eligibility page said that I qualified for both premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions. HOWEVER, when I go to select a silver cost sharing plan, it says there are zero available. I live in Tennessee. How do I get this bug onto your punch list?
Submitted by Jimmy on
As a techie, this type of update is most beneficial. Perhaps future updates could include to the top 3 to 5 priority items for each of the four core teams. Good Luck as you're providing a real-life, real-time lesson in IT Project Management.
Submitted by Remmy on
the President relies on you guys !! do your best possible !fix it
Submitted by Jim on
We expect the website to access databases to verify residency and citizenship, employment and income, and availability of insurance. To improve performance, will any of these requirements be overlooked or ignored?
Submitted by JamesW on
"The most important near term metric is response time." I'm very surprised at this. How many of the complaints on this site and others have been of the form "I had to wait 10 seconds for page x to load"? I'm no expert, but it's clear that complete hanging, failure loops, and non-responsive error messages rate much higher in the scale if user concerns. Better metrics would be the absolute number of visitors who have to wait more than a minute to progress from one page to another after hitting an OK key; and the (smaller) number who can't advance at all.
Submitted by Jim on
I used the site Oct 1 and it was disgraceful but I used it again today and I noted significant progress. Keep up the good progress and make that date! Jim Hanley Retired Director of Technology Audit for a major bank.
Submitted by Lowell on
Keep up the good work. I am glad to hear that you are making progress. I have no doubt that in time you can solve all the problems. Keep your eyes open for damage caused by hackers and sabotage from unexpected people. The Republicans and Tea Party people will go to any length to slow you down and stop you. Don't under estimate what they are capable of or the damage they may try to do. Good luck.
Submitted by A a on
If I give you my account number can you get my identity verified? Been waiting since oct10. Yes, I uploaded my driver license AND I also snail mailed same to your Kentucky address. I'm feeling you're ignoring the people who were applying in the first weeks. Do you have teams digging into the uploaded docs for verification?
Submitted by Al on
What about getting to verifying the identities of many who have been waiting to be verified since the early days of October? Our numbered applications sit there un-finalized.
Submitted by Allen on
My app is held up for ID verification supposedly. I have had ID# since oct10, beginning process of applying oct 4. I have uploaded docs & mailed docs to KY. For past 2 weeks NOTHING IS HAPPENING TO MY CASE. That is, I merely wait with no word on progress. Question: how can progress on identity verification be documented? I sit here in the dark not knowing if I will EVER be "verified"! Yes, the site is now "popping", but what about all those non-identified cases like mine? You know, my application can never move forward until I can be verified!!!!
Submitted by Anthony on
I appreciate the regular updates. I wish the media would provide updates to the general public instead of misleading everyone with unvetted stories.
Submitted by Jack on
Is there an estimated time of it being repaired and fully functional? Typically an ETTR is established to gain confidence for future use.
Submitted by ATL Guy on
Thanks for the update. Very informative.
Submitted by Maria on
Thank you for the update, instead of Noise, Drama, and Misleading Information we hear everyday from GOP and Media.
Submitted by Alan on
Hope they resolve how to delete multiple plans for the same person
Submitted by Adele Berino on
Except those people who actually want ACA to fail from the start.Majority of Americans are really hoping for the website to work efficiently and looks like it's getting there.Thanks for all your great job ! God bless.
Submitted by Monica Scurry on
The folks without healthcare and need good healthcare are appreciative of your efforts and hard work.
Submitted by ConfusedinTennessee on
I can't distinguish between the plans that have abortion surcharge and the plans that don't. I can't effectively sign up for a plan until I know this critical information. I'd recommend either a notice just below the premiums on the plans that do provide the abortion surcharge or a warning notice that a plan does not provide abortion coverage so that when I compare the premiums of the plans, I can immediately see which plans carry the abortion surcharge and which plans do not. Until this glitch is resolved I won't be able to effectively choose a plan. I have several relatives that are concerned they are going to sign up for a plan and it won't have the surcharge and thus the desired coverage. Having the abortion surcharge listed with the plan premiums will greatly clear up the confusion for me and my relatives. Thank you for your hard work thus far.
Submitted by Anonymous on
That is great to hear. Keep up the good work fellas.
Submitted by JB on
Too little too late.... this should have been addressed in August
Submitted by Greg on
They were too busy giving speeches about how great this was going to be to do any work and it is biting them now. Unfortunately those of us like me who really need health insurance have been sold down the river. I do not believe they will get this working right based on the fact that nothing they've said so far has happened.