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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 JEP on
It's nice that you're increasing capacity, but when are you going to address the many, many people who started their enrollment in early October and now have their applications in the "In Progress" status? What is your time frame for fixing the identity verification process. Apparently when verification documents are uploaded, they go into some deep dark hole where nobody can find them. Why is there no focus on helping those of us who are stuck in the application process? Why are your CR's so clueless on how to help us?
Submitted by SKB on
It would be nice to see some real technical support both online and phone. Both of these lines of support are of no help to anyone. Unable to complete application for weeks now. Error outs at the income portion of the application. No one seems able to resolve issue. Is there no way to delete an application? Really! With all the smart people behind this website and no one can do this. People are starting to panic due to the fact that they are unable to sign up either on line or by phone. I am all about to give this up.
Submitted by Ryan on
JEP, relax. If they leave the enrollment process broken they will have a ton more people in your situation. They have to fix that process and then they can fix you and others that are stuck. It's the logical path to a solution.
Submitted by Chuck on
I agree that it would be a good thing if those identity documents uploaded in October get reviewed and those users be allowed to proceed. Meanwhile, I created a new account with a different email address, and got a lot further. But now I'm stuck somewhere else. My enrollment checklist is locked at "review and confirm". It says to go back to application details. But application details says I'm complete.
Submitted by Tom on
My girlfriend got help on her second try. She was called away as they were completing her application and had to stop. She called back a week later and finished the application with a different CR. Seems there may be differences in training. I would suggest you try again until you get someone that can help you.
Submitted by Steve on
Have you tried iOS 7.04? It works quite well. Much better than the disastrous original 7.0. I guess these things take time.
Submitted by Harry on
Same problem here………………...
Submitted by Robin on
I am in the same predicament. Losing existing coverage soon, I began the application process Oct. 1st. Finally got into website Oct. 11 and selected plan October 14th. I am in a "black hole" now and the Advance Resolution Center (ARC) is supposedly working on my enrollment and continue to say they will fix it soon and call me back. No one calls. It is now Nov. 24th and I selected plan Oct. 14th. Extending sign-up time for new applicants does nothing but add to the problems. How about processing those of us who are already in the system? Who can address this?
Submitted by Kim on
Me too. When I lived chat, I was told to call the customer service. When I call customer service at evening, I was told to call in the morning so the most experience customer rep could help me. When I called in the morning, I was told too many people were using the website. It cause the system freeze or there was a glitch in the system. I was told to call in the afternoon when the user traffic was lighter. When I called in the afternoon, I was told the same thing, there were too many people were using the system to cause the glitch. I was told to call back after November deadline according to the law to get the glitch fixed. I was telling those customer rep that do they run an exceptional report to check how many people's applications are "in progress" and "ID verification" status and have that fixed. It is very common in the private industry to run exceptional report and correct the pending issues.
Submitted by Peter on
I had the same problem. I set up a new account with a different email address and was able to complete the verification process. The sticking point for me was that I had a voluntary freeze on my credit reports. The one they need is Experian. There was a second problem that a bank had reported an incorrect address to Experian. I checked everything in my Experian file and called them to make corrections. I also temporarily lifted the freeze on my Experian credit report. Once this was done, the new account was setup and verified in about 10 minutes.
Submitted by pat on
JEP, you are so right I have been I progress since oct. 10. every time I call they tell me they cant acces the system,i have had conversations with Experian,ARC,CSR and every time they tell me it will be taken care in 2-3 days.Well, it is now11/23/13 nothing ,now it says app. not complete .Isend copy of drivers li.i have uploaded copy of drivers li.nobady knows where any thing is,this is insane.Good Luck JEP.
Submitted by richard on
JEP, I was in the exact same boat as you and completely frustrated. On Monday I phoned the Marketplace and was surprisingly told to create a new account and reapply. I questioned this as I was told many times in the past 7 weeks not to do this, as it would make things worse. To my complete surprise, I created a new account, identified myself, filled out an application which was completed and now have enrolled in a plan. I confirmed the plan with the insurance company in my state....I did get a subsidy.... and made the first payment to start my new insurance plan on Jan 1. I was told that so many bugs were in those initial applications they may never come to surface. I too had uploaded my identification several times and sent a hard copy of my passport to Health and Human Services on Oct. 5....never heard a word. My suggestion is ....create a new username, email and download a browser for only accessing The Marketplace. I downloaded Chrome for this purpose. A couple hitches, but within an hour I enrolled in a plan. Good luck!
Submitted by James Wimberley on
Follow HHS' advice, repeated by volunteer software expert Glynis here: if you are stuck at an early stage, forget about your old application - probably corrupted by the unstable website of the early days - and start again in the much cleaner environment of today. Healthcare.gov does not have a database, it's a sophisticated post office. If the first application ever emerges from the black hole, so what? You only sign one cheque for one policy. The HHS tip sheet has links to pages walking you through the process of deleting cookies and clearing the browser cache: https://www.healthcare.gov/blog/3-tips-to-remember-when-you-create-a-marketplace-account/ My pennyworth is to set up a new user account on your computer, so that the browser copy is only ever used for health signup. Write your data on a crib sheet before you begin, and take as great care in entering data as you would on an ATM.
Submitted by DJK on
I was stuck at "In Progress" after uploading documents too. I was able to enroll by doing the following: 1) Create a new account using a new email address and login. If you have a Gmail account, just add a period "." to your regular email address. Google will ignore the period but healthcare.gov will see it as a new address. 2) If you have a credit freeze on Experian, lift the freeze for a week or so. I could not get my identity verified until I lifted the freeze. I was able to enroll quickly after doing the above.
Submitted by brad on
Start over....that's what i did, and it worked perfectly. It took 20 minutes. Abandon everything you have done. It's corrupted data. Use a NEW e-mail address, password and user name. Sign up for dental....(you can cancel it later) I was stuck just like you for 6 weeks.......Now I have coverage. :-)
Submitted by Ellen on
I'm having the same problem. Still waiting for someone to call me back about my identity verification. Where did my two proof mailings go? Help!!!!
Submitted by Susan on
I have the same problem. Guess what its quicker just to contact the insurance company you might be interested in. Instead of going through thIS STOMACH TWISTING. I have spoken to three reps who were VERY KIND and seemed knowledgeable, HOWEVER, THE GOVT. is TYING THEIR HANDS. What is this "Advance Resolution Group". Is that MYTHICAL? Now that I've read that somebody else is having the same trouble. I'M REALLY WORRIED.
Submitted by Michelle on
Yeah, why is there no obvious focus on those of us who are stuck in an "In Progress" status. My application has been in progress for weeks. It seems that you should be working on pushing people through the system instead of trying to push more people into an already critically flawed system.
Submitted by Kathy on
JEP, It has been suggested on other blogs that anyone who started an application in October and finds their status as "In Progress" should re-apply using a new email address, username, and password. I followed that advice and was able to create an account, had my identity verified, was given a $$ amount of subsidy to expect, and chose an insurance plan all in less than one hour. Try it. The website has made great improvements since last week.
Submitted by anna on
I agree - I would give anything to "View my Eligibility Results" and not have a blank page or the button not work at all - it is one way one day and the other the next..??? I signed up in early Oct too and still I cant progress into purchasing coverage cause I can't see what I'm eligible for - If something is wrong on my application I would love to know! I check every day to see if anything has changed and still nothing! That would be okay if I could call and find out - but they wont tell me either! so frustrating..hope it is all working by December 15th deadline!
Submitted by Nancy Friday on
Try starting a new application with a new email account and a different username and password. A lot of people have reported success when they did that. I did that and I am still waiting for identity verification, but it seems to help the majority of the people who do start a new application.
Submitted by CMF on
Thank you JEP! I am also stuck in this same "In Progress" status since October. Calling customer service or initiating an online chat yields NO solutions. Very frustrating!
Submitted by Glynis on
People who started an application in early October and were still stuck in identity verification are having success enrolling by creating a new account with a new username, new password, and new email address. Delete cookies and temporary internet files first. From what I gather the quality of support is not consistent. Sometimes you get a really good one and other times not. From what I've heard Live Chat is limited in what they can do. Calling phone support is better but again you might get someone that isn't helpful at all. It's frustrating for sure. As far as I know, nobody is monitoring these blog posts. Frankly, I don't know why they even allow comments. What happens is people end up coming here because they are so frustrated and looking for any kind of help they can find. The only help available is those of us sharing what we've learned. Once you get past the verification stage you'll get an email to view your eligibility results. To do that you'll click on the words "Individual and Family Coverage" on the "what would you like to do?" page next to where it says "in progress". On the next screen click on "Eligibility & appeals" to view the eligibility document. If you click on view eligibility results and it looks like nothing happened, look for a pdf file in the lower left corner of your browser. Click on the file name to open it. Click on "Resume Enrollment" to go to the "Enroll To-Do List". Don't worry about what it says in the red bar, it's just a reminder. You set your subsidy credit on this page and click on the green "Set" to see and compare plans. After you select a plan click on "Confirm". The greyed out "Locked" buttons will unlock after you complete the preceeding step. You have to complete each step to enroll. What's worked for others when they got stuck on a step was to call the 800 number and a phone rep walked them through it.
Submitted by Rebecca on
Exactly JEP. Those of us who applied in October, and are stuck in an endless loop of error messages, ..... what are WE supposed to do? I've never been without health insurance in my life ... but my current plan is cancelled as of the end of the year. BLOG AUTHOR .... what do you suggest we do? Start shopping private insurance again outside of this system? I want to be supportive of the President's initiative ... but not at the risk of being uninsured. I really don't know what to do at this point (not getting call-backs to help address our error issues). :(