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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.

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Submitted by John on
Is there anywhere we can report issues??? I have been stuck at the "Income" section and cannot get past it. I get to a certain point and very time I hit the 'Save & Continue' button, I get the shaded "please wait" screen and then nothing happens. I try to click the button again and the same thing happens.... Any suggestions?
Submitted by Therese on
I am at the Review and Confirm Page whee I need to finalize my plan selection and I have been getting the "turning wheel" wait icon for quite a long time (almost 2 weeks)
Submitted by Dawn on
Just wanted to note the place I'm stuck at, in case this is a common issue or to let the programmers know about another bug. I try to enroll & view the plans, when I select My plans & programs, here's what I see: My plans & programs Eligibility & appeals Applications details Report a life change Communication preferences Authorized users My plans & programs (0) There are currently no plans or programs selected for this application. I was told what I SHOULD see are a list of the plans available along with my prices, but all I get is the No Plan response. Yes, I've completed the application and yes, I've received the Eligibility notice, although it's odd, because before my status said "progressed" and now it says "in progress". Also, some of the people manning the chat & phones are not at all interested in discussing any known issues, they just read off a card "we're sorry you're experiencing difficulty....blah blah...." very few seem to know or care about any known issues, just seems like they are on their phones messing on facebook or something instead of making an attempt to learn or inform the customer.
Submitted by Glynis on
You should click on Eligibility & appeals and scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the button that says Continue to Enrollment.
Submitted by Kim on
I still can't view results. Get a blank screen when clicking the "button".
Submitted by Rita on
I have tried to submit an application with a navigator Friday, no success. I tried Sat,. no success, I tried Sunday, no success. I tried 3x on Monday, no success. I tried Tues, Nov. 12 and of course, no success. This system is slow and when you come back from pre submit page you have to go back to the beginning through each step, though with most info still stored. Then I get to the income section and the system goes down and tells you to try again in 30 minutes.
Submitted by carol seelaus on
I have not been able to log in at all in the last two weeks. I had set up an account in September, and had gotten as far to see that I'm eligible for a subsidy, but subsequent visits have actually taken me backwards. I'm no longer able to log in. I have an account. I have a printed PDF that says all I have to do is go to www.healthcare.gov/marketplace, so I can proceed, but I'm in worse shape than I was on October 8th. I keep putting the same info into the log in sight, dozens of times, and when I go to live chat, I get a canned message that says, "we apologize etc. . . " I don't want apologies. I want somebody to tell me what I need to do----start all over?. . . .I just want to get into the marketplace. . . .
Submitted by Lynn on
I am having the exact same problem as you are. The problem of not being able to log in at all started for me two weeks ago also. I wonder if anyone at the Marketplace are reading these comments and doing anything about the complaints?
Submitted by Jerry on
No improvement, now it will hang up on Social Security number, saying it is not correct, but it is correct.
Submitted by JBS on
Great job! Some day this blog will be part of a standard case study in business school on how to go from awful to good enough. The detailed updates are appreciated. It's also wonderful to see a government IT organization implementing agile practices! You can do it!