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A Weekend of Work Brings System Progress

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Today, Julie Bataille, Director of Communications for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provided an operational update on the Health Insurance Marketplace.  In Julie’s own words -  

“Earlier today the FFM online application and enrollment system experienced a brief, unscheduled outage. That lasted for approximately 90 minutes.  While the application and enrollment tools were not available, the Federal Data Services Hub remained fully operational during this time.  As we noted last week, we have found both hardware and software issues that we must address as part of our improvements. We have core teams in place to identify and prioritize fixes in these areas. As we expose more volume to the system, we may identify additional issues and we will continue to work through them. This is frustrating. We are on an aggressive path to make improvements and we will do just that.”

Over this past weekend, we made more than a dozen important fixes to the HealthCare.gov application and enrollment system to improve performance and functionality. The HealthCare.gov site is working better than it did last week, as we continue to take steps to ensure a better consumer experience.  We are making progress moving through priority fixes and crossing items off the punch list, one by one. 

Specifically, we began fixes to correct information on 834 notices.  These 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.  We have been working closely with the issuer community to identify, test, and put in place fixes to improve these forms.  The notices now should reflect proper date/time stamps, qualified health plan identification numbers, and consumer contact information.

The ongoing fixes we are making to enhance the application itself will make a meaningful difference to consumers using the system and to insurance companies processing transactions on their end.  Another example includes fixes to improve the functionality of the “Save and Continue” button in the application, allowing consumers to more readily save their work, continue or come back without frustration. 

We will continue to take steps to improve the reliability of transactional data, which is important to tracking progress over time as we work to report on overall program metrics moving forward.

Lastly, as part of our weekend work, we also upgraded hardware so that our system now has more redundancy – improving stability and scalability – adding dedicated switches in the Verizon/Terremark data center to help prevent a recurrence of the kind of issues associated with last week’s system outages. 

We now 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 Ramon on
As a developer and a systems engineer, upgrading the hardware and increasing scalability is key, you guys are on the right track. Reporters don't have a clue about how large scale IT implementation is complex, especially when new tech have to integrate with legacy systems. Keep up the good work.
Submitted by stan on
been stuck on review and confirm enrollment for weeks. keep watching circle go round and round. why
Submitted by Dennis on
"and by the end of November, it will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users." Shouldn't the measure of success be "it will be working smoothly for 100 PERCENT of users?"
Submitted by Michelle on
I am done with the Identity Verification, I am not uploading nothing. My account will be stuck on not verified. And i answered the ? correctly, and i have a message that says i max out my verification attemps.
Submitted by Wendy on
I cannot get past the part of the application where I enter my son's info- it always does nothing when I click Save and Continue. It has done this for a month and I try daily. What am I doing wrong?
Submitted by Barbara on
I have been trying since Oct 17th to enroll in health insurance. I completed my application online and received my notice of eligibility. I then chose a plan, however, every time I try to enroll, I get a message that my enrollment is incomplete and I need to return to my application details to resolve this. I return, click on the links and am once again informed my application IS complete, but I am not enrolled. I go through this loop over and over and over, am still not enrolled. I've called the 800 number, used the chat room and have even tried a couple of the 'local' contacts listed on the website, however, one has changed jobs and the other never returns my call. I also called BCBS of TN and they informed me that they can't access my application and therefore cannot enroll me. Help.
Submitted by Greg on
Working weekends? Hopefully we're not capping this at $678MM. You can't expect to get a website that works for that kind of scratch. What can we do, as the american people to keep this cash cow fed? no pun intended.
Submitted by Norman on
I already enrolled by phone on 10/01/13,but could not complete online application to view plans in Oklahoma. Why must I apply again when I use Healthcare.gov when I have completed my enrollment by phone? Is anyone fixing this issue???
Submitted by Virginia on
I live in New Hampshire and can still NOT GET MY ELIGIBILITY RESULTS so I can purchase a plan. IT KEEPS SAYING MY APPLICATION IS INCOMPLETE...BUT IT'S NOT. on the left I click on the link of application results and I have an I.D. number and it says my application is complete (?) To see my results click on the green link....then nothing. i've been stuck here for about a month now. I don't want to fill out another application. Can I delete the one on file and start over or do I just wiait? I have called 3 times and gotten nowhere. The last guy who helped got nowhere trying to find my application results!
Submitted by Donna on
From an end users perspective, it would be helpful to determine whether those people who tried to sign up in early October who are still stuck at various points in the process should start new applications. I've read anecdotal reports from people who have done that and have been successful completing applications. If you decide to recommend that, put a statement on the front page.
Submitted by susan on
can a person actually apply and view the plan benefits for a policy now and be enrolled for insurance to start jan l, 2014.
Submitted by InsuranceInDepth on
That is all well and good. Baby steps will get you there, but how long will it take? Can anyone at HHS say with a straight face that the site will be 100% operational by December 1st? How about January 1st?
Submitted by Karen on
My identity has been pending verification since 10/9. How much longer will this step take? I have uploaded both a drivers license and voter's ID card. I have complete the applicaton mutiple times and it still doesn't save all my input and can't be submitted until my identity is verified. Should I create a new account?
Submitted by Steve on
Well it looks like the IT staff is making definite progress. On Saturday Nov 2, I was able to go all the way thru the process of creating a user ID and profile, filling out the application, selecting a health insurance policy thru BCBS of New Mexico.The entire process took only an hour including some time I took to verify my input and data. On Monday, Nov 4, I was contacted by BCBS to verify my application, answer a few additional questions and was provided the information necessary to obtain my membership cards. This demonstrates the improvements to the 834 notices has been effective. On a side note I have a hard time understanding how people have trouble providing the necessary information. The application information being requested is not rocket science. It's fairly basic and not anymore intrusive than filling out an application for any kind of insurance. If people are having a tough time understanding these questions than I question how they can even operate a personal computer or even read a newspaper.
Submitted by Linda on
I had similar good experience but am in the waiting period between signing up and getting verification through BCBS of GA. The BCBS person i chatted with doesn't understand much. They don't have the enrollment forms from the gov yet. BCBS kept trying to tell me i have to pay first.......duh. classic miscommunication and it will only get worse when gov gets involved with health care.
Submitted by BobbyGvegas on
See my blogging on this fiasco at http://RegionalExtensionCenter.blogspot.com I support health policy reform, but you people have completely screwed up this important operational piece of it. You just give the GOP knuckle-draggers tons of ammo. I just cannot believe the utter incompetence on display. You have little time to make this work. January portends to be yet another costly federal shutdown zoo, and this will be topic A should this mess not be remediated.
Submitted by Joseph on
Please check you website this morning Tuesday Nov 5. If one selects the federal website instead of an individual state who has the site up and working, you get ee.xxxxxxx.ee.xxx type messages which are ugly and noneffective. Please check!!
Submitted by Jerry on
I can' enroll on plan 1 . I can on plan 2.
Submitted by Nick on
Okay. It is now Nov. 5 and let me just say it. I see nothing of the improvement Mr. Zients and Ms. Bataille have talked about. I see the same problems I have seen since the first week of October that I have reported on extensively, with the only exception that the enterprise identity management system (EIDM) has worked well over the last 4 weeks. The same slow page load (14 seconds on average for every click during the Application), the same dead ends and loops in the Application process. The same loose ends and bugs in the Enrollment process. The same occasional HTTP 302 (moved permanently) and HTTP 500 (internal server error) in the REST calls, and right now, again all text elements are missing. Let me put it bluntly. Something is off. There is a leak somewhere, and you need to find the leak. And you need to find it soon.
Submitted by Chris on
How long does it take for the indentity verification part? I've been waiting for a couple of weeks to continue. I've sent in my documents via upload. It's seems stuck in the processing identity verification stage.
Submitted by Kathy on
First, thank you for the hard work you are doing. I live in Pa. My insurance runs out at the end of November and I need to be signed up to start new for January 1st. My identity has yet to be verified, and I see many others with this problem. Maybe you could work on the people who are already in the system and waiting first? I've been waiting weeks. I'm beginning to panic. I am on the site every day hoping for resolve. I've called the service center many times and they told me my application went through, they're just waiting to be processed. The eligibility link doesn't work, but I'm able to see it. I would hate to see people give up because it's too much work--I'm not giving up! Thanks again.
Submitted by Jay on
Can I "window shop" anonymously?
Submitted by Debra Sheldon on
Fix the Identity Verification system! Ive been trying to complete my application since October 4 and verified myself over the phone twice and uploaded my drivers license 3 times. Still cant get past that step!
Submitted by Deidre on
I have had the same issue for 3 weeks - I deny any additional dental coverage and nothing happens - it goes back to that screen and still shows I need to answer that request - then I hit eligibility and appeals and it says it has been processed and I go thru and refuse Medicaid and hit continue enrollment and it goes back to the dental again -- I have already picked my plan but cant get back to do the payment arrangements with the ins
Submitted by Mike on
I have been having the same problem with the dental coverage. It wont let me decline coverage.