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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 Glynis on
Others stuck in this same place were successful enrolling in a plan after creating a new account with a new username, new password, and new email address. Delete your cookies and temporary internet files first. Be very careful with the format of your answers and follow the examples they give exactly as they look. If they use a dollar sign in one place, then enter a dollar sign. If they don't use it in another, then don't enter one. Same thing with entering cents. Also, don't add any decimals to any place they don't, like to hours worked, round up or down. And your name should be exactly as it appears on your Social Security card.
Submitted by JAJ on
I agree with the comment of JEP. I submitted my application on Oct 13 and it has been stuck in never-never land ever since. The website tells me it is "in progress" and when I look at the application detail it tells me my application is incomplete. Despite the fact that I have repeated the application process at least a dozen times, it never gets beyond the "in progress", "incomplete" status. As a matter of fact, now when I try to complete the application I can get to the point of entering the family information but as soon as I try to save the summary information I get the "OOPS our system is down" error message. In my opinion, the system is still dysfunctional and in some regards worse then before. For many and I mean many of us, time is running out and no one seems to know or is able to get the existing "stuck" applications moving through the system.
Submitted by linda on
There must be a way to delete incomplete application submitted on Oct 18. Cannot complete it for it takes me back to square one. must complete application.. Information will not save. Im also in verifacction pending progress. Please clear up thousands of these applications that are in a black hole . I have uploaded my drivers license and am still in pending. Time is running short for us who will be losing coverage on Dec 21st... Been through the same song and dance with customer reps who dont do a darn thing except apologize and forward our call to someone else who does not call back after 2 to 7 business days... I have gone through that three times since Oct 18... JUST CREATE A DELETE PROGRAM... Maybe we should get TI help from INDIA
Submitted by JH on
The site still is generating errors for me and although I have previously gotten as far as the income section the site keeps making me enter ~10% of data in the 1st section and errors out after the final summary which shows all items being correctly filled. The chat help appears to be reading off a script and are completely unhelpful. The 800 number drops calls but I finally got through and escalated my problems and I was promised I would get a call back this coming week. All in all the site is still not functioning and I don't believe the extremely low error rates being mentioned in these blogs
Submitted by Phyllis on
When are you going to address the problem that I can't get past the part where the tobacco use is.
Submitted by Phyllis on
Same issue for 2 1/2 weeks. Can not get past the tobacco use question. Will you address this problem?
Submitted by Wisconsin on
Started app in early October, and never could upload ID's. Since then, I have never been able to get back into my account. When I try to log in with my user name and password it sends me right back to the Log In page.???????
Submitted by Ron on
The earlier person JEP is correct, while the healthcare.gov might be working for new applicants (which I have seen with my friends), It does not fix any issues for the people who have already started applications in October. The bad part about it is that there is no option to start a new application in the same account. One one application for one state... Right now i am stuck at "View Eligibility" Page where it does not show me "Continue Enrollment" Button for now one month. Not sure how to proceed from here.
Submitted by Rebecca on
I did my app by phone. What now? I have heard nothing back. I have no insurance companies to apply to. I was told last week that someone would call me in two to five days. That was a week ago. I was told app was to mailed on 18th of Oct. Nothing. The site is of no help at all, or I'm just too dumb to use it.
Submitted by Eric on
Today, upon submitting my fourth application, I finally got through the entire process and enrolled in a plan, WITHOUT ERROR. It seems like the fixes are working but only with new applications, my old applications are still getting various errors.
Submitted by Glynis on
If you go to healthcare.gov/blog/3-tips-to-remember-when-you-create-a-marketplace-account/ and scroll to the blog posts at the bottom you'll find several posts from me with tips for the problems that people have been posting on this blog. Unlike here, it's easier to follow because when you post a comment others can reply and you will get notified so you can read it.
Submitted by srg on
Many of us are absolutely prevented from completing ID verification and applications, with errors occurring consistently as we go through the applications. I've been through my applications over 55 times, never getting to the end. 8 calls to healthcare.gov and live chat result in no help whatsoever. Not once has a rep been able even to open my application on their screen. There is obviously a glitch related to the account or application but this is never acknowledged. I'm told only that there's nothing they can do; I should try again later. 6 weeks of this and now I'm becoming concerned that I will be denied the opportunity to get insurance (contrary to promises). There must be a way to address these issues for those of us who are stuck. It's not just server capacity! After weeks of effort I now can't apply by computer, phone, or mail (I'm told that a clerk will have to input my paper application into the computer, so the same problem will occur if they try.) I work on this over 3 hours a day, and no help or recourse from healthcare.gov. Why can't you help us?
Submitted by Totally Frustrated on
I agree with JEP. I'm actually wondering if the early applications shouldn't get totally purged. I was finally able to get past the verification process ... don't ask me HOW? Now I'm stuck at being able to view my "eligibility" results [the box is blank]. Without being able to view them, one can't view plans and make an intelligent decision. There also seems to be a discrepancy as to whether you can pick a plan [ie via BC/BS] to have in place for January 1st and have it linked to your eligibility results, when that function is actually working. OR does one have to go through the marketplace for that credit to be applied? Ask that question ... NO ONE seems to have a definitive answer. OH and by the way ... giving my info via phone on October 2nd now shows a totally BLANK application, according to one Marketplace rep. So that process also didn't work for me.
Submitted by Jim on
My app has been in since Oct 4. This morning 11/23 I still cannot view (and never have been able to)Detailed Eligibility Results. Those buttons are dead. I am very computer literate and have tried different browsers, cleared caches, and I am able to see pdf files on other web sites. Also I now cannot get past Select Premium Tax Credit (since last 4 days). I get this error: Application ID: Date: 2013-11-23 10:28:55 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
Submitted by Gil on
Jim when I read your comments I had to stop and wonder whether I had forgotten and somehow written them myself. My situation is almost identical to yours in every respect. I've actually called the Marketplace twice so far and they can't get me unstuck either. Their advice is always apologetic and check back in a few days. That's where I've been since the beginning of October, just like you. If you're till stuck you might try calling and as the verbal complaints on this issue mount up maybe something will get fixed.
Submitted by Barbara on
I am also stuck on set the premium tax crdit with the error code 500.806. They need to give the people at the 800 number some other info to reply to people who are having this error code other than try again later. That reply only adds to the frustration. Some solutions must be available since I have been stuck at this for two weeks now
Submitted by Robin on
It's nice to see that you are improving the site everyday but when are you going to fix the issue with reviewing and confirming application. When I get to this point, the system keeps looping, saying please wait. Nothing happens. This has been going on for 2 weeks now. I called about the issue and I even did a live chat. They said it is an issue on your end and they are sorry for the inconvenience. The person on the phone sent a message to technical support and the person on live chat said someone will contact me in 2-5 days. No one has contacted me and the problem has not been resolved. I need to get this resolved soon because my PCIP insurance coverage runs out on December 31,2013.
Submitted by Myra on
I can't seem to get past the point where it says save and continue. The system seems to freeze and nothing happens. When I try to do on-line chat, I get the same answer about technical problems When I call the help-line, they tell me to wait 24 hours. I have done that for the past 3 weeks. Still nothing happens! I have chosen my healthcare plan and signed the electronic signature form, but can't get past that screen. I am almost to the point of giving up. I want to sign up for healthcare, but the website is a total disaster and is contributing to all the bad press and frustration with those attempting to sign up for the plans.
Submitted by Gary Johnson (Team America) on
Isn't Mollom a foreign company? We don't trust this system and we never will because delusional thinking only works on film, where reality is optional. You people should be ashamed of your incompetence. The only way this can work is if everybody starts telling the truth..... good luck, Spock!
Submitted by Noe Rodriguez on
After many attempts to enroll, I am finally enrolled. However, according to the insurance provider, I will not be able to complete the enrollment process until they receive the tax subsidy amount I qualified. The insurance provider indicated that I could enroll now if I want to pay the full amount. When will my tax subsidy information be submitted to the insurance provider?
Submitted by Glynis on
When you picked a plan was the tax subsidy amount showing? Did you set the tax subsidy to decrease your monthly premium amount on the 'enroll to do list"? If yes to both of those then when the plan you choose was submitted to the insurance company the amount of your tax subsidy went along with it.
Submitted by JLN on
I created my account in early September and have never been able to get to the identify verification screen and as such was never able to fill out an online application. I sent in a mail-in application that was received in London, KY on Oct. 24th. Yesterday I called in twice and both of the CR's I talked to told me that my application was marked "completed" but neither of them could access the application to tell me the results because of a "system issue". Complicating matters someone else's application seems to be linked to my phone number. This issue was discovered on Nov.8th and I talked to a CR who said someone from ARC would be calling me in 3 to 5 days to resolve the issue. I talked to a CR on Nov.20th to check up on the situation since I never received a call from ARC and was told that there was no record of my call on Nov. 8th. Now I am waiting for ARC to call me within 3 to 5 days from Nov. 20th.
Submitted by Rob on
I've written a lot of negative comments about this site because I wasn't able to create an account.Now I can finally report a POSITIVE one because I was finally able to create an account. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! The difference was trying different user names until one finally worked.
Submitted by Robert on
I started and finished my application the first week of October 2013. I completed my profile and family information as requested. I uploaded a copy of my DL as requested. I have signed in everyday for more than 40 days and have talked with 27 people on this site including EXPERIAN help desk. My status seems to be stuck in the (IN PROGRESS). The identity verification process seems to be broken beyond repair. Today, as a last resort I have completed a paper form of the application, and will now mail it USPS to see if this works? The HEALTHCARE.GOV web site seems to be some kind of cruel joke to someone like me that is currently without medical insurance due to a job loss.
Submitted by Dan on
WHAT FINALLY WORKED FOR ME, YESTERDAY!!! After 5-weeks of trying, with some 3 applications in process, 2 of them on the Marketplace's website, and 1 of them in-between by phone, personnel at the Marketplace were finally able to access & complete my prior phone application late on Friday afternoon (which I had started back on 11/13. In the meantime, my 2 Internet applications (one dated 10/21 and the other more recently) are still frozen in time, with seemingly no hope. So despite all of my efforts to change log-ins & delete cookies & change email addresses, none of those worked for me at all. So if I was you, I'd print out then fill out a paper application, then submit it over the phone, at which point Marketplace personnel will most likely be able to access your original application, possibly using it as a starting point, then fill in the balance of the application, from wherever it was frozen in time previously. In my case, it came down to 2 minor questions (no idea why), at which time my application & enrollment in a plan was completed within a few minutes. Yes, it took me 5+ weeks of trying everything that I could multiple different ways per day, before my efforts finally paid off. So my advice to everyone who finds themselves frozen in time is to skip the Internet (assume that your existing application isn't going anywhere any time soon) & go directly to the source = phone the Marketplace. The best of luck to you!!!