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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 J on
I still cannot complete my application and enrollment because I cannot view my eligibility results. I do not know what I am eligible for. When I press the 'view eligibility results' button, nothing happens. Your customer service agents cannot view my eligibility results either. Please fix this -- thanks!
Submitted by Lili on
I'm so glad you feel you have increased your capacity to allow up to 800,000 users to access your website in under one second. Too bad you can't do anything when you get there. I filled out the registration form to open my account with a user name and password. I RECIEVED and email with a link to VERIFY my email address. Unfortunately, when I clink the link I get an error message stating "Oops. The Marketplace couldn't verify your email address." So I guess I have to wait till December for your fine competent programmers to read through your 650 billion dollar project and fix it. BTW, when you update customers about the progress of bug fixes, you merely need to state what you fixed. We don't necessarily need to here how "the vast majority of users" can access the site or how committed you are to fixing it,,,,,,,,,,three times. Once is sufficient. I am one of the "vast majority of users". If there are programmers working for companies that make games, movies and shopping websites that handle millions of users per hour and don't crash, and fix bugs and glitches in a timely manner for a fraction of what this website cost, maybe you need to fire some paper weight and hire some people who know WTF they are doing.
Submitted by Bud on
You folks should be ashamed. Have the people at Amazon.com take a look at what's wrong with this sorry system and I'd guess they'd fix it by lunch the next day. I know we're supposed to be patient and all that, but enough government stupidity and apathy!
Submitted by Patricia on
I went to my local health dept., and a lady tried to get me enrolled. It took her numerous times and after an hour and a half she told me to come back in 30 min. which I did but she could not finish the enrollment. I have tried all week trying to get myself enrolled but it never lets me get past putting in my income info for me & my husband. I have also called Healthcare.gov 800# and they have not been able to help me either. I have tried all times of the day and night trying to finish my enrollment. When is this going to be resolved? Very frustrated!!!
Submitted by June on
I have FINALLY gotten a message that my application is complete. Unfortunately when I try to view my Eligibility Results I get HTTP 400 message. When will this error be fixed??
Submitted by justin on
I'm a 30 year old employed male. I'm ready to sign up when the site is ready. I am 110% supportive of this endeavor.
Submitted by EMK on
I try every single day and I get all the way to the end of the application process and it says "Our verification system is temporarily down". This has been 22 days in a row. May be I'm crazy, but I'm not seeing the great progress here.
Submitted by roy on
my problem is that my application was submitted on 10-14-13 and shows completed but i cannot advance past the eligibility results in order to shop for plans. ive been told everything from high traffic to bugs but the truth remains no matter what time of day,dozens of times trying, my process is dead in the water. You cannot delete your account and start over so i guess this is where my journey ends until the website is operational. I love the fact that they say you have an option to fill out the manual paperwork or call but these two options are still dependent on the same online system and the rep told me that because my application was complete that i was already in the system and would have to wait to actually buy a plan.....
Submitted by Susan on
I'm wondering if you really care. I have been trying to finish my registration since Tuesday or Wednesday. All I need to do is verify at the end of this program. Every time I login I get pushed out at the INCOME section. All I'm doing is VERIFYING what's there. PLEASE HELP. This is getting ridiculous. All I want is insurance. I've been told its cheaper to go through the marketplace. Well let's see it. Please.
Submitted by Glynis on
when you are doing an application 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 Michelle on
WHATEVER! Believe it when I see it!
Submitted by Mark in Atlanta on
If you started an online application in October it may be a good idea to just do another application using a different password and email address. Just make sure to clear your browser of cookies and temporary internet files before getting started. Good luck and hang in there!
Submitted by jdf on
Why isn't your goal to have it work for all the people? And what does vast majority mean? Vast majority should mean 99.9 %. Try manufacturing and have vast majority of parts be right and see how long your in business.
Submitted by Vero on
A new problem that is happening is that when additional information is requested, the eligibility results are not showing if someone qualifies for cost sharing. It will give the premium tax credit for the month but does not give the cost sharing amount. This is yet another problem. The answer to the problem was to file an appeal, but there is no appeal process as of yet. What are you going to do to address this issue which is happening for many people?
Submitted by Steve on
What as BS announcement. People who tried to sign up in October, some as early as 12 Oct (phone application) have still not heard anything. Others were told over and over advanced resolution would call them but nothing. One can still not edit the web page application; mine lists me three times. Read through the blog and see where people are having trouble. Proof of capacity and work must be seen in an improvement in the blog comments and most important results. In my case who began on 1 October, nothing has changed and none one contacted me by email or by letter.
Submitted by Mary on
I did a phone appllication on 10/2/13. The site WILL NOT let me log in; keeps bouncing me back to the login page. I've called several times, one person said I had 3 applications with 3 application id numbers, one changed my password, another said I needed to see a certified counselor, another said they cannot mail me anything in the mail. I NEED TO SEE THE DETAILS OF COVERAGE AND PREMIUM PRICES BEFORE I CHOOSE A PLAN. What is so complicated about that??!!!??
Submitted by Debbie on
I am still unable to "Make a life change" on my existing application. I can't choose an insurance plan until this can be done.
Submitted by Anonymous on
I have been trying to log in completely since early Oct 1, 2013. I called the Experian number and was verified , yet my log in attempts hang up on the verification page. I essentially give up trying to log in.
Submitted by Anon on
Keep up the good work. ;-)
Submitted by Monica Scurry on
I think CGI owes the Government a Refund!!!!
Submitted by GG on
Our income is significantly below the 250% FPL. But the healthcare.gov website keeps telling us that we are not eligible for cost sharing reductions. It is giving us the correct premium tax credits. So the software KNOWS our income correctly. It's wonderful to speed things up, but you also need to fix some of the bugs in the business logic. Does anyone have any suggestions? The call center can't help us. They told us 3 weeks ago that the Advanced Resolution Center would be phoning us. But they never did.
Submitted by Kenny on
I'd hate to see what happens when they're 'Off Track': http://i.imgur.com/8AGgNrt.jpg
Submitted by vince phillips on
Although this blog sounds encouraging, I think that HHS and CMS missed the boat by not utilizing licensed insurance agents in the first place instead of going with a pseudo-travelocity model or using unlicensed people in the call centers. In addition to being knowledgeable, agents could have reduced the frustration so many thousands faced when trying to do it on their own.. Agents can be an asset if you utilize them.
Submitted by ED on
As JEP says... When are you going to address the identity verification bottleneck_?.. I have uploaded identity documents several times to no avail I have also sent hard copies of the documents to EXPERIA a few times and nothing happens... Please HELP!...
Submitted by Susan on
Please let people delete and restart their accounts using their existing email address.