Despite Improvements, HealthCare.gov Still Marked By Technical Issues.
HealthCare.gov’s first full day after its overhaul generated very little unambiguously positive coverage from nonpartisan news outlets, and a great deal of reporting highlighting the technological obstacles that continue to confront those attempting to use the site to purchase health insurance. The site and its improvements, however successful, garnered nearly six minutes of network news coverage and prominent placement in many of the nation’s major newspapers.
Scott Pelley, on the CBS Evening News, reported that on Monday, HealthCare.gov “faced its first big test…since the Obama Administration said that it met its deadline to make” the site “work smoothly for the vast majority of shoppers.” Wyatt Andrews went on to report that the high volume of traffic on Monday caused some people to get a new message: “We need you to wait, so we can make sure there’s room for you.” According to Andrews, that message is “a new feature of healthcare.gov” that “puts applicants in a queue and promises an email when it’s their turn.” Andrews also reported that “there are…potential problems for the thousands who have signed up for new plans” as insurers say some of the information they are getting from the website is garbled and unusable, which may mean that some who thought they had purchased coverage successfully, in fact, had not. Nevertheless, Andrews said the White House insists the site is “better than ever.”
Diane Sawyer, on ABC World News, asked, “Did President Obama deliver on his promise to bring the healthcare website back from the brink?” – and then, without answering her own question, Sawyer said the White House has announced that “a lot of the tangled mess has been fixed.” However, Jonathan Karl went on to report that “with the slowdowns and continued problems it seems a long way from the goal the White House set for itself, ‘allowing the vast majority of users to enroll.’” Karl’s reporting focused on the plight of some uninsured Americans who are still unable to get coverage via HealthCare.gov.
In a brief item for NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams said the Federal site “is now working better and faster, as the White House promised it would by now.” But Williams added that the Administration “know[s] it is still far from perfect.”
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, in an analysis for the AP (12/3, Alonso-Zaldivar), says that on Monday, “administration officials projected renewed confidence that they’re on top of things.” However, according to Alonso-Zaldivar, if the Federal exchange “becomes overwhelmed by an expected year-end crunch, many Americans will be left facing a break in their insurance coverage.” McClatchy (12/3, Kumar) reported that the White House announced that “more than 375,000 people visited the website before noon Monday.”
Politico (12/3, Cunningham) reports that the White House “has been careful not to say the website is fully ‘fixed,’” and that on Monday, “some users continued to report error messages and delays getting on the site.” Likewise, under the headline, “HealthCare.gov Has Rocky Relaunch,” the Los Angeles Times (12/3, Levey) reports that the “overhauled healthcare website got off to a bumpy relaunch Monday as a rush of consumers caused an uptick in errors and forced the administration to put thousands of shoppers on the HealthCare.gov site on hold.” The Times notes that “the new problems came just a day after the administration announced that it had hit its goal of rescuing HealthCare.gov from its disastrous launch.” The Washington Post (12/3, Kliff, Sun) looks further into the “mixed results” users have reported with the improved website.
Bloomberg News (12/3, Wayne, Nussbaum) reports that although the Administration “cited…’dramatic improvements’ in the website’s performance” on Sunday, “others weren’t impressed.” Regarding the Administration’s claim to have reduced HealthCare.gov’s error rate to about 1%, from 6% in October, Sucharita Mulpuru, an e-commerce analyst with Forrester Research Inc, says, “A good site will have a 100th of 1 percent error rate.” Mulpuru also said that “the best sites are able to handle tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of sessions” simultaneously, while Healthcare.gov reportedly started placing users in a waiting queue after it reached 35,000 users on Monday.
McClatchy (12/3, Pugh) notes that also on Monday, HealthCare.gov “debuted an enhanced window-shopping feature that allows people to better compare information about health plans in their areas, including deductibles, co-pays for doctors and hospitals, provider networks and other features.”
CMS Reportedly Failed To Convey Healthcare.gov Warnings To The White House. Under the headline, “Health Website Problems Weren’t Flagged In Time: The Agency Running HealthCare.gov Mostly Kept to Itself as Warning Signs Grew About the Website,” the Wall Street Journal (12/3, Nagesh, Subscription Publication) reports that initial findings from a House panel’s probe of what went wrong before HealthCare.gov’s rollout suggest that CMS officials did not effectively communicate their concerns to the White House.
Zients’ HealthCare.gov Advisory Role Will Be Filled By Someone Else Eventually. Reuters (12/3, Holland) reports that on MSNBC Monday, White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri confirmed that when Jeffrey Zients, who has been coordinating the Administration’s effort to fix HealthCare.gov, takes over as NEC director next year, someone else will fill his role. Reuters notes that while it was previously announced that Zients would start in his new role on January 1, Palmieri said the timing may shift somewhat. Palmieri is quoted as saying, “Right now Jeff is focused on the website,” and he is “going to continue that for the immediate future. He will become the NEC director at some point, I’m not sure exactly the date.” The Hill (12/3, Goodin) “Healthwatch” blog also reports.