When I checked Healthcare.gov around midday, my potential log-in process met an error message after just two clicks. I described the administration's mega whiff on Fox News this afternoon:
But Peter Doocy and Guy Benson work for Fox News, a notoriously biased right-wing outrage machine, Obamacare fans might complain. Fine. A correspondent for the lefty publication ProPublica offers this unsparing assessment:
After a glowing news conference yesterday citing “night and day” progress on HealthCare.gov, I decided to log in this morning and take the Web site for a test drive, as I’m sure many others are doing. Early reports had been promising. What I found was hardly encouraging — long delays loading pages, an endless circle of tasks (some already completed) and ultimately an error message. The load-time issues (sometimes more than a minute) reminded me of the problems users encountered in the very first days of the Web site, which handles health insurance enrollment for residents of 36 states. It also appears to contradict what Health and Human Services officials said had been fixed. “Response times are under 1 second. Error rates are down well under 1%. And the system is stable, with uptimes exceeding 90%,” HHS bragged in a blog post yesterday. Additionally, once I had completed and submitted my application and verified my identity, the site told me that I was missing information and had to review it again. Nothing was missing. Ultimately, I got an error message telling me to come back later. The Obama administration says the site can now handle 50,000 unique visitors at one time and 800,000 over the course of a day. But on Day One of the new-and-improved site, it doesn’t appear able to keep up with the load. No wonder HHS is encouraging users to come back at off-peak hours.
This is what the reporter eventually encountered on his screen (be sure to click through to read the transcript of his maddeningly pointless online chat with a besieged Obamacare navigator):
The Obama administration says the federal exchange is "now more in the zone" of achieving its own pitiful benchmark for success -- namely, the website working properly for 80 percent of users. Anecdotal evidence suggests that technical issues remain pervasive. Evidence to the contrary is based on the assertions of the government, which isn't sharing its data with the press. And again, we're talking about the front end of the site here. The equally-important back end remains riddled with errors, with entire systems still under construction. The New York Times reports that insurers are still extremely worried about these "vexing and complex" failures, warning that corrupted data and malfunctioning features may lead to chaos in January. Riffing off of this Kaiser Health News story, Allahpundit paints a bleak picture of Obamacare's coming attractions:
Even with the White House urging progressive nonprofits not to drum up extra interest in enrollment before December 23rd in order to keep site traffic manageable, traffic is still bound to soar. The site may well crash, right in the home stretch before the December 23rd deadline. Once December 23rd arrives, insurers will have just eight days to somehow process the last-minute crush of applications without error, even though some unknown portion of them will likely be riddled with data problems from Healthcare.gov. If/when the applications are processed, people will start discovering next month after they’ve made appointments that their insurer has never heard of them. They’ll also find out that that the relatively low-premium ObamaCare “bronze” plan they signed up for happens to come with a deductible that’s stratospherically high and a provider network that’s much smaller than they’d hoped for. And on top of all that, it’s an open question whether the risk pools in the exchanges will be as young and healthy as insurers need them to be or whether they’ll end up too old or sick to be sustainable. In other words — mass chaos. Like I say, this is merely the next eight weeks.
Jay Carney isn't quite sure whether people who've signed up for Obamacare plans will actually be covered in January. He also "believes" that most of the back end 834 errors have been dealt with -- just as Sebelius "feels like" the site's data security measures are intact. He says Americans should phone up their insurers just to double check. This group just exudes competence:
Carney: WH believes "the majority of fixes to 834 forms have been made," CMS will also tell ppl who have enrolled to reach out to insurers
— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) December 2, 2013
UPDATE - Rough day for the CMS spokesman. Front end (simultaneous users) failing to live up to promises, and back end data (834 transaction error rate) being withheld:
.@CMSGov says queeing system deployed in mid-30k range, looking at error rates, delays. Far from 50k.
— Charles Ornstein (@charlesornstein) December 2, 2013
I've asked CMS four times now for the 834 transmission error rate. Four times, no answer.
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) December 2, 2013