The Healthcare.gov website isn’t working out the way everyone thought it would. Maybe the IT department is running on a dial-up connection. Or maybe they’re unable to get reception on their Nokia cellphones. Whatever the cause, far fewer people have enrolled in a health plan via Healthcare.gov than was previously estimated, and Republicans everywhere are continuing to pop champagne bottles amid bro-y high-fives. While the federal government had estimated some 500,000 enrollees for the month of October, only 40,000 to 50,000 have enrolled as of last week, according to insiders who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.
This has insurers worried because they need higher numbers of enrollees to make their plans profitable.
But the federal healthcare site’s technical flaws run far and deep. Reports have indicated that the site’s administrators are having to go through the site with a fine-toothed comb, because just when they’ve fixed on technical problem early in the enrollment process, other problems pop up later in the process.
On the day before launch, a technical report revealed that at that moment, the site could only handle a maximum of 1,100 users before response time became too high. The team working on the site said in the report that they were going to keep running tests to get the website to a capacity of 10,000 concurrent users. The federal government was anticipating 50,000 to 60,000 concurrent users on launch day. How many did they get? About 250,000 concurrent users.
Altogether, 2.8 million people visited the Healthcare.gov website on launch day. The site saw as many as one million by 7 am, which is five times more users than have ever been on the Medicare.gov website at any one time. In California, the state’s health exchange website CoveredCa.com was getting a whopping 10,000 hits per second. Several other state health exchange sites either crashed completely or had to shut down enrollment until they could be redesigned to handle such a high user rate.
As the story goes, only six people were able to enroll via Healthcare.gov on launch day. So I guess if you’re a glass-half-full type of person, 40,000 to 50,000 enrollees by the end of the month is pretty decent.
An estimated seven million people are expected to enroll by the end of the enrollment period in March. Thus far, the Obama administration has said that some 700,000 people have completed applications, which is the first step in the process.
Businesses are still struggling with the website as the section for business owners is still having problems.
The Health and Human Services Department is expecting the bulk of enrollments to come later in the open-enrollment period.
Image source: Slate.com