Trainwreck Status Report: Delays, Glitches, Missed Deadlines, Frustration

Posted: Oct 02, 2013 10:25 AM

As noted yesterday, the "Affordable" Care Act's insurance exchanges have arrived -- and despite three-and-a-half years of lead time (and as expected), their roll-out has been an uneven, buggy, error-filled misadventure thus far. It seems as though Sen. Max Baucus and that candid Obamacare administrator weren't too far off. The government is redefining "start" from coast to coast. Let's run through the early returns, shall we? From the first 24 hours alone:

(1) The Washington Examiner's Charlie Spierling, a Virginia resident, spent the morning attempting to set up an Obamacare account through the program's official government website. It did not go well. He abandoned his effort after several failed attempts, each of which was littered with error messages. A smattering ("the system is unavailable"):

(2) NBC News reports on several issues that have cropped up:

The online health exchanges launched Tuesday, setting off a range of glitches, questions and concerns about the system and the health care law. The new exchanges are expected to have some issues that federal officials said they will tackle as they crop up. And others are eager to help educate the uninsured that may still be in the dark about the new health care law...A computer jam in Washington, D.C.'s, exchange and a delay in the plan for small business enrollment are just some of the rough patches.

(3) Maryland -- a deep blue state filled with experienced bureaucrats, and whose government was exceptionally committed to making Obamacare work -- couldn't get its exchange off the launchpad on schedule:

Maryland Health Connection, the online insurance marketplace mandated under the Affordable Care Act, did not allow enrollment as promised by the state at 8 a.m. today...By 8:09 a.m., after experiencing difficulties connecting to the website, visitors seeking to enroll saw a pop-up window telling them that the exchange is scheduled to open at 8 a.m., and directing them to read a “consumer information update” before proceeding. When attempting to proceed, visitors were instead brought to an error page alerting them that the site could not load. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state agency that created and will manage the website, posted the following: “We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for visiting Maryland Health Connection. We are experiencing connectivity issues. Please visit the site again at 12 Noon.” No further information from the state was available.

(4) "Already some glitches" in Minnesota. The culprits? Connectivity issues and concerns over security:

(5) Connecticut's Obamacare "storefront" won't open its doors for "at least a few weeks," despite the state's "mad dash" to get their system up and running. Not to worry, officials say, you can always just call or go online -- but beware of "all the kinks:"

(6) When people encounter these various issues, they're supposed to be able to contact experts, known as "navigators" to help them work through any problems. A few snags: State officials have been worried about the vetting process for these navigators (who will have access to citizens' most sensitive personal data), the training process is still far behind schedule (despite requirements being scaled back), and in some places, the navigators are nowhere to be found. Wisconsinites will "hopefully" have helpers on the job in a few weeks:

The agency funded to help people in northwest Wisconsin enroll in health insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, like most others in the state, won’t have certified helpers by Tuesday’s official start date, its director said. Instead, Northwest Wisconsin Concentration Employment Program Inc.’s navigators won’t be fingerprinted and background checks won’t be completed until mid-October, said Brad Gingras, CEP’s director. “Wisconsin enacted additional requirements that have delayed our process. We need to complete state and federal training. Once completed, the background checks and fingerprinting done, we’ll get our certification ... hopefully by mid-October,” Gingras said Friday.

(7) A last-ditch effort to get Oregon's online exchanges operational in time was abandoned last night, as a critical mass of "glitches" forced officials to hit the abort button:

(8) California's online exchange went offline this morning, as potential enrollees were greeted with this "forbidden access" message. Twitchy is aggregating various problems and snafus across the country, including this tweet from a Bloomberg News reporter:

(9) Missouri:

(10) West Virginia:

Jon Tucci stayed up until midnight Monday, hoping to enroll on West Virginia's new insurance marketplace at the first moment possible. Ten hours later -- after two attempts at signing up and one 45-minutes call with a consumer service agent -- technical glitches have prevented the 60-year-old grandfather from purchasing a plan. "I'm pretty fluent on the Internet," Tucci, who is self-employed in the oil and gas industry, says. "I've applied for a lot of things, and there are always glitches. But this was totally disappointing. I'm just really frustrated." Tucci supports the health-reform law and President Obama; he's a registered Democrat who voted for Obama twice.

New York:

(12) Florida: The debut of the new health exchanges was plagued this morning, at least locally, by technical glitches on the government’s website...Attempts to register and find out what health care plans were available in Florida were stymied by computer issues that failed to show the security questions needed to establish enrollment. Another glitch filled the enrollment screen with computer coding symbols.

Pennsylvania: The Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange intended to serve Pennsylvania got off to a rough start. As of late Tuesday morning, attempts to reach health insurance plans available to Pennsylvania residents were met with this message: "Please wait … We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!"

Kentucky: "Glitches hamper access."

(15) Colorado:

(16) Georgia:

(17) A "meltdown" in Washington State:

(18) Delaware: "Choose Health Delaware, which the state is running in partnership with the feds, braced consumers for delays."

Illinois: "Consumers seeking more information on their new options under the Affordable Care Act were met with long delays, error messages and a largely non-working federal insurance exchange and call center Tuesday morning."

Hawaii: "The state’s health insurance exchange, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, will not be ready for consumers to shop and compare health plans at the start of open enrollment today. The online marketplace known as the Hawaii Health Connector is having software problems that will prevent consumers from comparing the various plans."

Texas: For hours, Houston-area health care providers and I have been trying to log into the site without luck. We can’t see the dozens of plans that we have been told are available to individuals and families or the rates.

Again, each one of these examples was culled over the first day-plus of Obamacare implementation. They are just the tip of the iceberg. Parting thought: Will Americans hear much about these failures, given that the political and media oxygen is being almost entirely consumed by the government shutdown? I'll leave you with this. Really:

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