10/26/2013 2:07:00 PM Obamacare website: another month of fixes
WASHINGTON (AP) — It should be working well by the end of November. That’s the Obama administration’s rough timetable for completing a long list of fixes to HealthCare.gov, the new, trouble-plagued website for uninsured Americans to get coverage.
In his weekly radio and internet address Saturday, Obama vowed that “in the coming weeks, we are going to get it working as smoothly as it’s supposed to.” The administration acknowledged Friday the site has dozens of complex problems and tapped a private company to oversee fixes.
Jeffrey Zients, a management consultant brought in by the White House to assess the extent of problems, told reporters his review found dozens of issues across the entire system. The site is made up of layers of components that are meant to interact in real time with consumers, government agencies and insurance company computers.
It will take a lot of work, but “HealthCare.gov is fixable,” Zients declared.
The vast majority of the issues will be resolved by the end of November, he asserted, and there will be many fewer screen freezes. He stopped short of saying problems will completely vanish.
The troubles have been nightmarish for the White House, which had promoted enrollment to be as simple as making a purchase on Amazon.com. This week, President Barack Obama declared himself frustrated by the setbacks while still trumpeting the benefits of the health care law and encouraging consumers to apply by phone at 1-800-318-2596 if the website proved a hindrance.
As part of its effort to repair the system, the administration said it is promoting one of the website contractors, a subsidiary of the nation’s largest health insurance company, to take on the role of “general contractor” shepherding the fixes.
Quality Software Services Inc. — owned by a unit of UnitedHealth Group— was responsible for two components of the government’s online insurance system. One is the data hub, a linchpin that works relatively well, and the other is an accounts registration feature that initially froze and caused many problems.
Zients gave some new details about the extent of the problems, but administration officials are still refusing to release any numbers on how many people have successfully enrolled.
Zients said the application process, which involves submitting and verifying personal information and income details, remains “volatile.”
There are two big categories of problems, he said. Performance issues involve the speed and reliability of the website. Functional issues are bugs that keep the software from working as intended. Among the high-priority issues is that insurers are getting enrollments with incomplete, incorrect or duplicative information.