More Glitches on HealthCare.gov; Obama Says Enrollment Will Hit 7M
Record traffic to HealthCare.gov on the final day of the Affordable Care Act's initial open enrollment period resulted in website glitches that caused the site to stop accepting new applications or allowing people to create accounts for several hours, the New York Times reports.
People trying to enroll in coverage could not access HealthCare.gov for several hours Monday morning after the site stopped accepting applications because of a software issue discovered during scheduled overnight maintenance, according to CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright (Pear, New York Times, 3/31). The site remained down until around 8 a.m. ET on Monday because of the issue.
Around noon ET on Monday, some visitors were diverted to the site's virtual waiting room until traffic on the site died down. Users were given the option to leave an email address so that they could be contacted when there was lower user volume (Goldstein/Sun, Washington Post, 3/31). However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the site's email waiting list functionality was not uniformly working as of late Monday afternoon.
The problem with HealthCare.gov not allowing new users to create accounts surfaced shortly after noon. The site also would not allow some users who already had created accounts to log in, according to someone familiar with the issue. A CMS spokesperson said that the site's technical team had identified the problem but would not elaborate on the glitch (Ante/Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal, 3/31).
The site was once again accessible around 1:30 p.m. ET, but consumers were often still placed in the site's waiting room, according to the Post.
Meanwhile, people around the country waited in long lines at enrollment centers and endured extended wait times when calling into federal enrollment hotlines (Washington Post, 3/31).
According to the Times, some individuals who called the hotlines reached automated messages that asked them to leave their phone numbers so they could be placed in a queue and their coverage applications could be completed after Monday's deadline.
The Obama administration last week announced special enrollment periods for those who attempted to enroll in coverage prior to the deadline but could not do so for various reasons (New York Times, 3/31).
Federal officials said that processing such individuals' applications could take anywhere from days to weeks, while people with complex cases could receive an even long extension (Wall Street Journal, 3/31).
HealthCare.gov Traffic at Record Levels
Albright noted that traffic to HealthCare.gov hit record levels on Monday, "with three million visits as of 8 p.m. ET and approximately 125,000 concurrent users at the peak." He added that federal call centers had received one million calls by 8 p.m. ET (New York Times, 3/31).
Officials could not say how many people had enrolled in coverage by Monday night (Washington Post, 3/31). However, HealthCare.gov performance data reviewed by the Journal showed that around 207,000 people had begun coverage applications as of 5 p.m. ET (Wall Street Journal, 3/31).
Obama, Other Sources Predict Enrollment To Hit 7M
Meanwhile, President Obama during a CBS News interview taped before Monday said he expected the administration would come "reasonably close" to hitting the Congressional Budget Office's original estimate of seven million enrollees by the end of the initial open enrollment period, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Obama said, "We admittedly had just a terrible start because [HealthCare.gov] wasn't working, and despite losing effectively two months, we are going to be reasonably close to that original projection."
He added that the administration also had succeeded in enrolling more young, healthy individuals than expected. He said, "In terms of the mix, what we've seen as we anticipated is that more young people are signing up late than early," adding, "But given how gloomy I think everybody's assessment was back in the middle of November, I'd say that we're on our way to making sure that no American ever has to go without health care."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that he expected final enrollment numbers to be "substantially larger" than the six million enrollees the administration announced last week (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/31).
Meanwhile, enrollment-tracking web site ACASignUps.net reported Monday that enrollment had reached nearly 6.9 million, according to Modern Healthcare (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 3/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.