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Improving the User Experience

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

We’ve made substantive progress over the weekend—and the Healthcare.gov site continues to get better each week.

First, we took steps to improve hardware and software issues. We successfully installed two large-scale data storage units, which will help ensure the stability of the Federally-facilitated Marketplace application.   Storage units are crucial to handling volume, and more will be added over the next few weeks.  Additionally, we are closely monitoring load balances among storage units to ensure efficient transaction handling. 

Second, based on the new protocol established last week to enable integrated performance teams to identify, prioritize, test and fix specific software issues on an accelerated basis, we implemented software fixes that addressed dozens of outstanding issues. 

These updates will improve the user experience, improve system throughput, and streamline the process for agent/brokers and customer service representatives. 

A few examples – which demonstrate the depth and specificity of fixes we’ve done to enhance the application and user experience include the following:

  • “Save” and “remove” options were added for consumers to upload documents to enable easier enrollment.
  • Consumer alerts were added on Plan Compare to let users know they cannot use Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) if they select catastrophic plans.
  • And Out-of-state residency information changes were simplified.

A number of other application fixes also improve user flow and address issues with 834 transaction forms.   834s are the transaction forms that the Marketplace system provides to insurance companies to complete the processing of an application and to enable the customer to ultimately complete payment and enrollment with the issuer.

  • Cancellation notices have been corrected.  Users –individuals or insurers—are now notified appropriately when a cancellation is made.
  • A rate rounding issue was fixed to enable users’ applications to move forward more easily.  Previously, APTC calculations that rounded resulted in stopping the application process.
  • If an individual chooses to work with a broker/agent, the broker can now add a unique identifier to simplify the workflow and to reference the information in the future.

In addition to these recent fixes, our ongoing monitoring shows that the system is stable with users moving more quickly through it with fewer errors.  As we’ve reported previously, we’ve also resolved many of the initial account creation issues that consumers had experienced early on.

Third, we know that in the first days of open enrollment many consumers tried to log in to the Marketplace on HealthCare.gov— and to take the first step to create an online account— but had trouble. While working to improve our systems, we’ve been conducting analysis to identify those consumers who may have been unsuccessful in creating accounts at that time.

Today we’re beginning to send messages to those consumers who had account creation issues to let them know they can now try again.  And we’re providing them with instructions about how to get enrolled—and some tips. We have also posted a consumer blog on this at HealthCare.gov.

We’ll continue to actively communicate with consumers about where they are in the process and what they need to do to complete enrollment over time. As we go forward, we continue to make progress on HealthCare.gov.  We have the right team in place and a relentless focus on getting the job done quickly and well.  The site is getting better each week, and by the end of November, it will be working 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 hevea on
thank's..... for the info
Submitted by Margaret on
a consumer with my help advanced quickly through the account creation and eligibility determination phase. he returned to his home, encountered difficulty in enrolling and returned for my help. he directed me to two eligibility notices in his inbox. both said more information was needed. we then logged him on at healthcare.gov the enrollment page was quite confusing. also, it had a notice with red background saying more information was needed. a more experienced navigator said oh that always comes up - disregard that. so we did. directions on enrollment page need to be enhanced. we needed to hit a button with green background saying set. there was no descriptors of procedure telling us to do that. but we did and he chose how he wanted to use his premium tax credit. (at that point the page should note that consumer may come back (without logging out) after he proceeds to shop. that delayed us as he wanted a certain amount to be refunded and hesitated to proceed as he did not know he could go back without losing data. eventually he enrolled but asked me to notify CMS especially about the glitch saying more information was needed. thank you
Submitted by Dick on
What is the purpose of this blog? It doesn't seem like many of the issues raised here are being addressed. Even the statements made in the November 12 statement don't seem to be happening. Please define "vast majority of users", is it 3, 4 or 5%?
Submitted by Steve on
Julie Bataille, please comment about what will happen to all the issues being flagged on this blog by users? There seems to be lots of feedback and frustrations being logged by users and potential customers of policies on the exchange, if they can only get a response. Are there issues being logged on the punchlist or just being ignored? I am an ACA supporter but very concerned about people's comments being unaddressed. Thanks for commenting on this very soon...
Submitted by Linda Hutchinson on
Fantastic improvement daily! Now, I feel like I am contributing to our mission.
Submitted by Shannon on
I am a CAC and have had many questions concerning the hardship exemption forms? How are they accessible-does the option or form pop up on the screen for the consumer? Please let me know, Thanks, Shannon
Submitted by Kathy on
I have been more than a month trying to review/ choose a plan. ... no matter what time or what day I try, the system takes me to that point and goes no further. .. I have tried the live chat. .. they are very nice about not having a clue. ... as I speak to others in my area, which is a large area, I have not found one person that has been successful with the web site. .. could someone please HELP!!!! Thank you
Submitted by Michael on
Sunday I saw for the first time my marketplace healthcare options. This began on 10/10/13. It took over a month to see my options. My status is still in progress and my original application is incorrect. I have chosen a silver plan in Virginia that will save me more than $500 per month without any government help. Now if they would only get my status upgraded from in progress. I will never give up. The never ending story continues.
Submitted by Kathy on
I realize it may take significant time and effort, but please make the plans searchable and let people use their own checklist of priorities for coverage. I see too many plans that include coverage that I cannot possibly use. I'm 57 and will not have a baby, my children are grown, over 26 and do not need me to cover them. I would like a break on the cost of eye exams and glasses, and would like to be able to get my teeth cleaned.
Submitted by FrustratedUser on
Why won't these people fix the View Eligibility Results button? It hasn't worked since Day 1. This is the last and only step preventing people from enrolling. I think they intentionally broke it so no one can enroll.
Submitted by David on
Got all the way to the review and sign section, noticed an error regarding the full-time student status of my child, clicked edit and it erased the entire application. Started over from the beginning, got to the full-time student section and now it won't save and continue. When you log off it saves NOTHING. Unquestionably, the worst user experience ever.
Submitted by Ellen on
In three days three guy's set a help site to review insurance plans. You can look at the plans without having to give them your personal information. I have been on the HealthCare .gov. site and have not been able to get any information without signing up. I want t see the plans offered, the options and the monthly premium cost for next year. I can not get any of the this information on the government site . They have no business asking for such sensitive personal information before you sign up for a plan. The Healthcare.gov. site is totally incompetent . Clearly it was a windfall for the Insurance companies and another failure to give all American's true affordable health care. It is clear that the Oboma administration was clueless as to how this would impact the American publics already limited options for getting affordable healthcare. Or, is it that they just don't care. It seems the money from the insurance lobbyist wins again. As always, all of us loose.
Submitted by Manuela on
What can I say ? I believed very much in this healthcare reform , I voted for our President and I respect him very much . I think he was not informed about what the problems were and the enormities of them. I am at the point to enroll , but I am stock ! I cannot log in . I have called many times and nobody could help me . I am starting to be very skeptical that this website will ever work !
Submitted by Robert on
The live chat representatives need more training. Chatted with 2 different agents. They did not understand my question based on the responses they gave. Responses in some case lacked basic grammar.
Submitted by Valerie on
Why can't I upload documentation requested by the marketplace? Why can't I make changes in my application (income) on the website?. It said that this feature would be available on Nov.15th.
Submitted by Rob again, again, and again on
You know every time I comment on here I say it will be my last! Then I go and try to create an account and be denied over and over. It's then the frustration builds to the point that I have to vent my unbelievable disappointment of this websites H.C. roll out. Over and over I hear "the system is improving" but I haven't seen one benefical improvement for me!!! This website is a joke that's not VERY FUNNY at all!!!
Submitted by Robert on
I passed the eligibility step and reviewed the plans available. None were lower than my current plan, therefore I am keeping that plan. There needs to be a step in the process where that information is entered so that HC.gov knows that. This lets HC.gov know that I have not failed or that the system has not failed. Because I went no further with the process I got an email stating that I had not completed the process of enrolling. I did complete the process. I just did not choose, at this time, to select a product. I want to maintain my account for future use just as I keep my Amazon account.
Submitted by Carol on
I would suggest that Healthcare.gov issue an update. It has been five days and no reports of progress, or if deadlines for improvements are slipping. I have been watching the "Report Life Change" link on my account. It still says to "Come back on 11/15/13 to report a Life Change". I did on the 15th, the 16th and today, the 17th and "Report Life Change" is not running and the message is NOW OUT OF DATE. At a minimum, you need to change the message to be current.
Submitted by Wade on
Over a month I have been stuck on "Verify your Identity". This is the error message I get every time(note that the Error ID is blank and there is no Application ID). There's a problem. Try logging in again after 30 minutes. If you continue to get this message, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. You'll need the Error ID and Application ID shown below. Error ID:
Submitted by Elaine on
My issue is that I cannot get pass 'step 1' after receiving the approval letter. Step 1 is to 'set' the amount of your subsidy to use against your premium. Well, I do not qualify for a subsidy per the approval letter. Called for assistance & helpdesk said their system was showing I did qualify for a subsidy. I know I do not based on income. All I want to do at this point is review the available plans & prices. My issue has been pending for over 2 weeks now with no resolution in sight. I have moved on to Ehealth.com to view plans. Too bad this database is so badly configured. AHCA has good overall provisions for health insurance reform & it's a shame a broken database is being used by foes to purposefully cloud the good points of this important reform. BTW, affordable does not equate to cheap. Health care in America is not & has not been cheap. A lot was needed to make it affordable.
Submitted by Thomas on
Have tried on several occasions to get online assistance and I'm not receiving answers that make sense. Ultimately I'm promised call back in 2 to 5 days and not getting calls. I've called for assist and still unable to get assist and promised call backs and not getting calls. My questions are really foundational and quite often I feel I know more than the reps, just based on the help I've read from the system. The problem is I have an account. I have received the confirming emails. My acct on the system says 'in progress'. This makes sense since I have yet to actually choose a plan. I navigate to the silver options summary and all plans for Virginia exceed 600.00. The problem is that I have no idea what the subsidy amount I qualify for is. Without knowing this, I cannot make a decision which plan to actually enroll in. The 600.00 summary amount cannot possibly include my subsidy because this would represent nearly 50% of my income. I am being advised, erroneously, that the 600.00 premium amt includes my subsidy. This doesn't seem to align with the information from the Help system either. The Kaiser calculation estimated premium at 67.00. Also, I cannot seem to get information on reduced costs features...such as potential for lower deductibles. One analyst suggested that you do not get the 'final' price until you actually pick a plan. So I chose to enroll and the next screen asks me to confirm for the same 600.00 plus premium. I cannot possible do that without knowing in advance what the final price would be. I need that so I can align my subsidy with the overall cost I feel I can afford. This seems like a functional problem to me...a user must get a screen that shows the exact amount of calculated subsidy and then the NET amount representing what the premium will be. I'm getting nervous feeling this basic functional deficiency is scaring away hundreds of thousands of users, including me and I NEED this insurance!!! This is a HIGH PRIORITY FUNCTIONAL PROBLEM.
Submitted by Fran on
Stuck for a week now in NH. "Sorry, our system is temporarily down" is what I always see after repeated attempts to get past the Family and Household section of site. There should be a way to delete an application and START OVER. Any chance of that happening?
Submitted by Steve on
This process is just plain stupid. I did as the Government asked and tried to sign up via the web site in spite of the problems I heard about early on. I kept getting kicked off and the income reporting was confusing and I ended up making a mistake in the reporting process. I have tried to edit the information but as the system had "accepted" my application I can not go back and make the changed to my application that I need to do to be accurate. I have used the Chat and customer support numbers and I am told (as many other people have been told) that as of 11/15/2013 we would be able to make "life changes". Here it is the 17th and still no way to edit the application. And why is it so hard to verify income? In my situation I have to supply a lot of paper for income when in my mind a simple yearly income tax face sheet that was filed with the IRS would do. It is too bad this is such a mess as I am one that could use the help as a retiree.....
Submitted by jimmy on
Submitted by Robert again on
11/17/13 Only 13 days left for the new predicted blast off , or possibly shut down date!! No one seems to have any idea what will happen! I can't believe that I'm starting to think that REPEAL may be the best and only option left!! What else can I say, it doesn't look good with time running out and NOTHING being done! I'm just prepairing for the worst!