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Obamacare website better but still needs work

The government's health care portal stumbled badly out of the gate 2 months ago, and it's still far from perfect.

By Money Staff Dec 11, 2013 3:03PM

This post comes from John F. Wasik at partner site The Fiscal Times.

 

The Fiscal Times on MSN MoneyI've been trying to apply for insurance on HealthCare.gov since the site went live in October. Since I'd like to find an affordable policy for myself and my family of four, I'm still trying. But the site still won't give me access to the application I filed over the phone a month ago.

 

Money in a medical emergency kit © Comstock Images, JupiterimagesWhile the White House has insisted that most of the problems with the site are fixed, there are still plenty of bugs that prevent it from doing its intended mission: Linking Americans with affordable private insurance policies.

 

The latest chapter in my two-month-long quest involved trying to bypass the buggy system. Although I was finally able to log on recently after a short respite in the HealthCare.gov "waiting room," I got bounced to an error page that stated my "identity wasn't verified."

 

This was unexpected since I gave all of my application information verbally to a HealthCare.gov representative in late October on the system's toll-free telephone line. I was assured that someone would get back to me in three weeks. I did receive a call, but without the ability to identify them -- or my personal information -- I couldn't talk to them. It could've been a scam -- I wasn't expecting a call, nor did I get a letter confirming the application.

 

When I called again on Dec. 2, I was told that they had no record of the information I provided. This was troubling since I gave out Social Security numbers for myself and three other family members, dates of birth and other vital information. Where did this information go? They didn't know.

 

Once again, I was offered an opportunity to provide the application information over the phone, -- which I declined, since they botched the first attempt. As an alternative, I was given an address in London, Ky., to send a copy of my driver's license or voter ID card for identity verification. I did that last week by express mail, which for some reason took three days to reach its destination.

 

Is a bug in the system actually losing information? Where does the information go if it's not going to insurance companies or online storage? Is it in the cloud? Is the Russian mafia hacking it and selling it?

 

Has Washington really fixed the system?
There are myriad technical problems with HealthCare.gov that the Obama administration still isn't coming clean on when it spins this tale of incompetence and management mayhem. Roughly one-third of those who have signed up since Oct. 1 have had computer-generated errors in their enrollment records, according to a recent estimate reported by The Washington Post and disputed by the White House. Exactly how many applicants are experiencing problems hasn't been disclosed.

 

It's clear that HealthCare.gov still can't handle the hundreds of thousands of visitors who want to use the system during normal business hours. When I ran into a logjam last week, I was ushered into a queue that flashed a screen stating "HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors." Duh. One helpful option was the ability to enter in my email to inform me when I could get in.

 

Updated data will be out soon, but reports from earlier this month said that about 100,000 people signed up for policies in November -- four times the number registered in October. According to Health and Human Services officials, the website received an estimated 800,000 visitors last Monday, with 375,000 trying to log on before noon.

 

Other than the ability to handle huge volumes of users, HealthCare.gov may have some back-office problems. Are application forms actually getting to insurers? Of those who are approved for insurance, are they able to submit payment to insurers? There still seem to be problems in this area.

 

Some of the recent fixes have undoubtedly eased consumer frustration. There is now a "window shopping" feature that allows you to view a variety of policy options. I was able to do this last month through a technical back door that a HealthCare.gov rep told me about, but now it's accessible to more users.

 

Overall, though, millions are forced to be patient with the system, which is not easy for most Americans in an age when you can get news and buy things on smartphones.

 

Despite all of the snafus, millions of people are still willing to put up with HealthCare.gov's numerous bugs to get beyond the technical hornet's nest. If and when the system is fixed it will do something unique in American history: Use a public delivery tool to provide a private product that everyone needs.

 

More from The Fiscal Times

45Comments
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Still needs work? Well there is a fu*king surprise.  It's working about as well as those "shovel ready jobs" or Congress.

 

 

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Notice when things are going wrong Obama has people standing behind him in an attempt to show he has support or people to blame, but when things go well, he stands alone in an attempt to take all the credit.
Dec 11, 2013 3:32PM
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Glad I don't have to put my personal information on that buggy website.
Dec 11, 2013 4:25PM
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Still needs work?  Well, it won't happen because he's out there taking SELFIE pictures of himself at Mandela's Memorial---

He is a Selfie; selfish, arrogant, and a Narcissist.

Obamacare doesn't exist.  There are no formal, organized plans for this trashy site to be credible.

2 years and waiting for the countdown, when Obama is gone---he is by far the worst President ever. 

Dec 11, 2013 3:30PM
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How about those pictures of moochelle obama getting pissed off at barrak for yucking it up with that good looking blonde Danish Prime Minister? Those pictures are the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Moochelle even made him switch seats with her then she sat with her back to the more classy and way more good looking Dane.  What was she afraid of??? that barry was going to hump the danish woman right there.    Moochelle made barry look like a scolded boy.
Dec 11, 2013 4:29PM
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Oh my, what a Surprise!!!  Wait until someone who actually gets an alleged polity and tries to use it.  The it will need to be renamed the "Deplorable Care Act" - which it should have been named a long time ago!!!  If you think the ground breaking of this program is a mess, wait until they actually try to use the policies they are supposedly enrolling in.  It will be more than "sticker shock"!!!
Dec 11, 2013 4:26PM
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Well, since the back end of the website hasn't even been completed, not sure how anyone would consider this clusterfux anywhere near "fixed." 
Dec 11, 2013 4:40PM
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Here's how I got "fixed"..........My new ACA compliant group plan via my employer includes a 94% increase in my premiums, $3600 annually in my out of pocket costs.  Visited a "specialist" yesterday, my dermatologist, and new office visit charge for this specialist went from $15 to $40.  Went to fill a prescription that I had previously been paying $25 for and now I have the privilege of paying $183 for the same product.  So, with the increase in premiums, plus the my additional $158 a month out of pocket for the prescription, I am paying $458 more per month.   I suggest we change the acronym of this clustersux to the UCA.......the UNAFFORDABLE CARE ACT!
Dec 11, 2013 4:29PM
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If morons are still hitting the site in hopes of signing on then thats a shame.... This dictatorships forced healthcare tragedy started off well... in the crapper.. those idiots in the govt should have left it there.

As for those hoping to sign on... thank you for supporting this dictatorship. I do hope your next life will have a higher education with an added bonus of common sense.

Dec 11, 2013 4:29PM
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can you imagine if our judicial system functioned as badly as the ACA website?  we'd all be in prison, while the criminals roamed the streets.  oh wait, I just described Washington d.c.  still waiting for the redskins to change their name to the "crooks", "liars" or "weasels".
Dec 11, 2013 4:54PM
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Let's see!  The ACA (Obamacare) was shoved down our throats in 2008.  According to my calculations, that was about 60 months ago.  And in all that time, the Democrats still do not have the sign-up running properly.  That kind of gross bureaucratic incompetency is typical of everything done in D.C.


Thank goodness the Democrats did not run the military - we'd still be fighting WWII.

Dec 11, 2013 4:43PM
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What would you expect from a government agency?  They kept so much of the site development in house that it defies logic.  The normal procedure is to contract diffferent parts out to different firms who specialize in that type of programming or design and then test each step as it is built to work out the glitches.  Too much need for control from the top on this debacle.  And I use "debacle" only because the real term I want to use is not very nice.
Dec 11, 2013 4:37PM
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Everyone certainly needs health care but not at Obamacare rip off prices. How about modeling after Canada'a Health Care system. I like what the young kids are saying " Obamacare is for thee, not for me." President Obama needs to raise cash on his own instead of taking the seniors hard earned money that was payed into Medicare for people when they get old. That's not his money and social security isn't either. Hands off , take what you want from the politicians retirement fund & health plan.
Dec 11, 2013 4:46PM
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My question....why would anyone expect anything different from the government? There has never been any government operation/plan run successfully, efficiently or effectively by the US Gov. and this is just another of their failed attempts.... This one will be really hard on "we the people."
Dec 11, 2013 4:51PM
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Do you know what the Easter bunny-the tooth fairy-Santa Claus and Obamacare have in common? There all figments of your imagination.
Dec 11, 2013 4:42PM
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Should have gotten Ross Perot to help set up this system.  He is the gentleman who set up the computer system for both Medicare and Medicaid.  But no, of course not, because this is the Odumbo administration.  This is the most incompetent administration in history with the exception of perhaps the Carter administration.  We elected a President with no experience in running anything and we are surprised.  This administration reminds me of "Mad Magazine" on steroids with Alfred E. Newman at the head.  Gee, the ears ever match!
Dec 11, 2013 5:09PM
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To put things in perspective, an online gambling site recently went live in Atlantic city and signed up over 50,000 and the ACA websites combining state and national sites signed up roughly 150 in the same period. The Government considers a sign up or enrollment as when someone puts a policy in their cart, meaning over half have not been paid for yet. What a joke!!!

Dec 11, 2013 5:29PM
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The "Obamacare website" doesn't need "work", it needs DEMOLITION!!!

If the health insurance industry needs to change to meet the needs of all Americans, then let it happen through networking the people who are involved with the system - insurance companies, healthcare providers, and patients(you and I).  Good, old -fashioned collaboration, cooperation and negotiation between citizens.  The government cannot be trusted to engineer, develop and implement something this big with the mentality that is prevalent in D.C.  More time and money is wasted in bickering over their "feelings" than getting the job done, taking care of their constituents.  That is why they were sent  to D.C., NOT to join some good-old-boy, hot-air blowing, debating squad who know nothing and do even less.

Dec 11, 2013 5:26PM
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Despite having entered all data and having identity verified, the site stalls and gives no results.  When I finally logout and get back in, much of the data has disappeared and has to be re-entered again, then, stalls out with no insurance choices shown to pick from.  Sign out, then in, and the same thing, "application incomplete" and data already entered multiple times is gone.  Ridiculous.   Did China sell the Governmnent such dumb computers? 
Dec 11, 2013 5:07PM
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Obamacare "portal stumbled out of the gate... and it's still far from perfect".

Yep. Pretty much sums up that entire administration.

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