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Progress on Capacity

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Today, Jeff Zients offered an update on our efforts to improve HealthCare.gov; data on key metrics on site performance, the progress made this week and the view looking forward.  

In late October, we appointed QSSI as the general contractor to deploy their expertise in technology and program management to lead this project forward.

The team from QSSI continues to work with people from CMS and other contractors around the clock to troubleshoot the system, prioritize fixes, and provide real-time management decision making.

Thanks to this team effort, we have made measurable progress.

Before providing some specifics on this week, remember what we said at the end of October: HealthCare.gov will work smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November.

We’re on track to do so.

We have two objectives: addressing capacity shortfalls and managing volume, and improving user experience. 

Both are necessary to support the President’s goal that every American has access to affordable quality health coverage.

In terms of capacity, HealthCare.gov will be able to operate at the capacity that was originally intended: a rate of approximately 50,000 users on the site at the same time.

It’s important to keep in mind here, that this is not a simple website. Rather, it’s a complex system doing complicated work.

The system needs to process the millions upon millions of unique circumstances that consumers present. It needs to determine eligibility for hundreds of state and county-level programs and all their permutations. And it needs to factor in subsidy levels based on family size, income, and plan selection.

This is much more than a website for browsing or conducting routine transactions.

With that context, and the capacity we will have by the end of the month, this means the system will be able to accommodate more than 800,000 visits a day from consumers who are seeking information, filling out applications, shopping, and enrolling.

In terms of our second objective, improving the site experience, the vast majority of users will not experience the error messages, slow response times, and system outages that characterized their experience in October.

The system will not work perfectly. But it will operate smoothly for the vast majority of users.

We have said from the beginning that HealthCare.gov is fixable. And we are working around the clock to do just that.

While there will not be a magic moment at the end of the month when the work will be complete, users coming to the site today are already having a greatly improved experience. The site will be better at the end of the month than it is today, and it will continue to improve thereafter.

This past week HealthCare.gov was stable, with the exception of an unscheduled outage on Wednesday and a short period on Tuesday.

On our key operating metrics, response times and error rates, we continue to make progress. For most users, speed and response times were good and error rates were low.

This past week, average response time for most users has been under 1 second. That compares to the first few weeks after the site launched when we estimate that users were waiting an average of eight seconds for pages across the site to load.

Having response time under one second is a significant improvement.

In terms of the site’s error rate, last week we reported it was 1percent. This week, we’ve driven it down to .75 percent. As a reminder, a few weeks ago the error rate was 6 percent.

We are also seeing marked improvements as a result of the more than 300 software improvements, bug fixes, and hardware upgrades we’ve made across the last several weeks.

We have a new prioritized list of 50 additional fixes and improvements that we’re focused on for the upcoming week.

Notably, while we will continue to fix bugs and make improvements throughout the system, the priority fixes we’re focused on now are mostly aimed at improving the user experience further along in the process: in Plan Compare, in Shopping; and in Enrollment.

During peak periods of volume, some users still experience slower response times. Right now, the system is able to maintain good performance with about 25,000 users in the system at the same time. This compares favorably to a few weeks ago when, at lower volumes, the system was often unstable.

This increase in performance results from hardware, software and infrastructure upgrades and fixes that we have implemented to increase the system’s capacity.

These improvements will continue this weekend as the team will be installing additional hardware capacity in the computing, storage, and database environments.

These upgrades, and others planned for next week, will allow us to serve increasingly higher volumes and to double the current capacity to 50,000 users at the same time.

HealthCare.gov was originally intended to handle this load and the improvements we’re making will bring it up to this level so that the site will have the capacity that was intended. We will continue to evaluate ongoing capacity needs.

Now, to be clear, there will be times that volume on HealthCare.gov will exceed this capacity. To specifically prepare for those times when spikes in user volume outstrip the systems’ expanded capacity, we will deploy a customer-friendly queuing system to handle these spikes by serving consumers in an orderly fashion and by allowing consumers to request email notifications when it’s a  better time to come back to the site.

Stepping back, we’ve made a lot of progress working through our punch list, and the consumer experience is much better.

We’re on track to more than double today’s capacity, so that each day, the site will be able to accommodate more than 800,000 visits from consumers who are seeking information, filling out applications, shopping, and enrolling.

We have work to do to further improve the system and user experience. It’s likely as we move forward, we’ll find additional glitches and experience intermittent periods of sub-optimal performance.

Our bottom line is that we’ve made measurable progress in getting the site 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 Anonymous on
Please add a better background and make the underline more clear is to dark and the same time light. Tank You
Submitted by Lisa on
I am unable to appreciate the improved features of the web site because I can't even create an account. I have tried to create an account at practically every time of day (the only suggestion an account representative made). This has been going on for weeks.
Submitted by rob on
My Pennsylvania group of plans say I have 50 plans to choose from.Only problem is 20 of them (all Geisinger) DO NOT have the tax credit subsidy DEDUCTED.It is so frustrating just wondering how and why obvious mistakes like this happen. Doesn't any one proof read anymore??Maybe they want me to take the full tax credit at the end of the year.This makes me wonder if the site is improving at all!!
Submitted by nat on
....Maybe Julie Bataille or Jeff Zients should just tell people who are "stuck" with an old application the is not getting anywhere, to start over!!!...Obviously people are afraid to start a new application with new a new username, password and e-mail. If they hear it from the director of communications, or one of the head tech guys, then maybe they will try it????? Also many people who are "stuck" do not read this blog, so someone should publically explain to "everyone" how to start over with a new application and maybe they would have a better experience this time.. Just a thought....I started over and it worked...I am now signed up for new coverage for Jan. 1st and I feel very relieved after all the stress I went through with the first application!!! Goo luck everyone, I want this to work!!
Submitted by Paul on
I am rooting for you to succeed. I also sympathize with the enormous pressure you must be under as you face unrelenting opposition from Republicans who have no better answers to our nation's health care problems. One suggestion: on Nov. 30 or Dec. 1, I think your report to the country should be about the health of the entire affordable care act, including all of its elements. In my estimation, too little attention has been paid to Medicaid enrollments and the amazing advancements in the adoption of EHR throughout the country - all due to elements of the ACA.
Submitted by Glynis on
For tips and tricks on how to move through the site to enroll in a plan and help troubleshooting the common problems being posted here, Google: "my obamacare success story: It was worth the wait!"
Submitted by Michelle on
I have been getting an error message since last Monday stating the system is temporarily down. What does temporary mean? I have tried for almost two solid mopnths to get an application submitted. I even called a rep and was told my application was submitted. Guess what? Still no insurance signed up for yet.
Submitted by Anonymous on
I still can not view eligibility results or my marketplace notices as of 11/25/2013.I have been stuck at this point since 10/19/2013. I was told by the call center I am stuck until the website is fixed. The call center told me they were going to report this problem. The call center also just told told me to keep trying. I try everyday without any success.I do not see improve. It tells me to click the link and log in to read the notice. I cannot read the notice I have available to read. There are too many problems with the website. I have suggestion let us delete application without creating a new account. I refuse to create a new account to actually be able to go through this process of getting health insurance. I tried everything “live chat “and the call center told me to do and nothing works.
Submitted by James Wimberley on
"I refuse to create a new account to actually be able to go through this process of getting health insurance. " If it were a human being treating you this way. I'd understand, But it's only a badly designed website. Swallow your pride and start a new application. The site is much better now than when you first started and your chances have gone right up. There are plenty of testimonials for the approach on this site and elsewhere: http://www.leftinalabama.com/diary/10716/my-obamacare-success-story-it-was-worth-the-wait
Submitted by Glynis on
Oct applications got corrupted. Your alternatives at this point are to create a new account or get in person help to apply. You can find someone in your state by going to localhelp.healthcare.gov
Submitted by Alan on
www.healthcare.gov would make a great April Fools joke. Problem is at the rate it's going it will still be a joke April 1, 2014.
Submitted by jim on
My app was in on Oct 4. I was verified then also. Until today (11/25) I could not view my eligibility results nor get past the tax credit green button. Today I took Glynis' advice to do another app with new username, pw and email. It worked! I was worried about doing a duplicate, but it breezed through the identity verification and I held my breath when clicking the View Eligibility Results button. And there it was...the long awaited-for PDF just like Glynis said it would. I then breezed through the tax credits and I actually got plans showing with the correct premiums adjusted with the tax credits. (I used Chrome as a browser). Thank you, Glynis for your tips! Also kudos to Countrycat for her tips at http://www.leftinalabama.com/diary/10716/my-obamacare-success-story-it-was-worth-the-wait
Submitted by Smoke on
I have been stuck in the same place with my application for 7 weeks. I guess in some ways I'm lucky - been verified and rec'd my tax credit eligibility letter - all fine and reflect correct info. BUT website has my spouse listed twice and no one can get rid of this duplication. Since the website info doesn't match the eligibility info we can't move forward to apply the credit and enroll in a health insurance plan. This is after virtually daily contact with the marketplace about the same issue. Just match the submitted info reflected in the eligibility letter and get rid of what your "glitches" caused in error.
Submitted by Glynis on
Start over by creating a new account with a new username, new password, and new email address. Delete your cookies and temporary internet files first.
Submitted by Jason N. Treadwell on
My name is doris treadwell I want to get Health Ins. for my son, Jason and Dentsl & Vision. He is 33 yrs old. I want to get Dental Ins. on Me Doris R. Treadwell I'm 70 yrs old. Thank you, doris
Submitted by Glynis on
I suggest you get in person help to enroll. Contact a navigator in your area to help you. go to localhelp.healthcare.gov to find one or go to your nearest Walgreens, CVS, or RiteAid pharmacy for help enrolling.
Submitted by Bharat on
I creat my account 5 time, when I did submit, I got a message that check your e-mail, and ther is a link, click on link, However I got e-mail all th etime, but it is blank, there is no link. So I got stuck not having my account created.
Submitted by Glynis on
If a link isn't showing in your email then that is a problem with the email you are using stripping out the link. You'd probably have more luck getting in person help. You can find someone in your state at localhelp.healthcare.gov or go to your nearest Walgreens, CVS, or RiteAid pharmacies because they are helping people enroll.
Submitted by Jim on
Does this mean that the data hub will have the ability to provide subsidy information to 800,000 consumers each day? If so this is wonderful news....If 60,000 subsidy eligible people can enroll every day from now until March 31, 2014 Healthcare.gov will be able to enroll more than 7 Million people in the next 120 days.!! This would be an awsome achievement!!!! Jim Please advise....Thanks....
Submitted by MN on
This site has regressed. From late October until 11/16 I was able to see my tax credit eligibility. Now I can't get passed the "confirm your have reviewed 'all, some, none' options." I get this error message: "An error occurred while getting your premium tax credit information. Please try again. If you continue getting this message, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Error ID:500.806" I called the 800 number twice and spent 90 minutes (mostly on hold because the rep said she was on hold to the next level). The recommendation was to "keep trying, as this can't be fixed now." That's not an answer. And, it doesn't leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling that anyone is even acknowledging the problem, let alone planning to fix it. Some pointer, or index, is broken here. Adding all the capacity in the world isn't going to fix that. It's time to publicly acknowledge a list of known errors and provide target dates for fixes. At least if customers/citizens can see "their problem" on a list that is being addressed there can be some low level of assurance that 1) HHS has some handle on what needs to be fixed and 2) those of us in limbo can actually sign up in time to get coverage from a new policy when our current ones terminate on 12/31.
Submitted by Karen on
I am having that same problem. The error ID 500.806 started on Friday for me. I have called in numerous times. No one seems to know anything.
Submitted by Nick on
Today the 'LOG IN' button doesn't work in Firefox.
Submitted by Glynis on
Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari browser work better than Firefox.
Submitted by Lisa on
Today is worse than in the last 8 days. Log in continue app. back to log in . Log in again one page and the system is down instead of getting to putting in info about income page. Gee...
Submitted by Lisa on
When will most of us who haven't been able to finish an application be able to continue or delete and start again?