Despite White House promises to the contrary, it is increasingly unlikely that Healthcare.gov will be fully operational by its end-of-month deadline, according to a report in the Washington Post.
The site is "balking," says the Post, when more than 20,000 to 30,000 — roughly half of the site's intended capacity — try to use it simultaneously. Worse still, the firm tasked with fixing Healthcare.gov's many problems is reportedly only succeeding for about six of every 10 problems it faces.
According to the Post, the dismal state of things has many government workers and technical contractors believing that the website simply won't be fully operational by the end of the month, forcing Americans who want to enroll in health insurance soon to do so through other means.
This inside view of the halting nature of HealthCare.gov repairs is emerging as the insurance industry is working behind the scenes on contingency plans, in case the site continues to have problems. And it calls into question the repeated assurances by the White House and other top officials that the insurance exchange will work smoothly for the vast majority of Americans by Nov. 30. Speaking in Dallas a week ago, President Obama said that the “Web site is already better than it was at the beginning of October, and by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to, all right?”
The need for what the official called a “divide-and-conquer strategy” for enrollment puts more emphasis on alternative methods for buying health plans. These methods include federal call centers and insurance companies that sell policies directly to customers — paths that are hobbled for now by some of the same technical problems affecting the federal Web site.
Julie Bataille, director of communications at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, said: “We are working 24/7 to make improvements so that by the end of the month the site is working smoothly for the vast majority of users. We are making progress, including fixes to reduce error rates and get the site moving faster.
“The challenges we are addressing today,” she added, “are a snapshot of November 12th, not November 30th.”