HealthCare.gov: Five questions about the problem-riddled rollout (+video)
Nobody, including President Obama, is sugarcoating the problem-riddled launch of HealthCare.gov, where uninsured Americans can buy health coverage. Tens of millions of people have visited, but many haven't been able to register and few have enrolled. The clock is ticking: One must enroll by Dec. 15 to be covered Jan. 1.
Here are five questions about what’s happened.
1. Why is the rollout such a mess?
Because of last-minute changes to the site, officials failed to do adequate testing before HealthCare.gov went live. Contractors who worked on the site blame the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tasked with overseeing creation of the site.
A month before the site’s Oct. 1 launch, CMS decided to require users to register before being able to shop and compare the prices of insurance plans, contractors testified in Congress.
“We did not adequately do end-to-end testing” before the rollout, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a congressional hearing Oct. 30. “The products were not locked and loaded into the system until the third week in September.”
The rollout was so rushed that, even after the launch, the site's computer code still had placeholder language, tech experts say. The site also did not have the capacity to handle the flood of visitors it received, making it operate slowly and crash often. Faulty data were sent to insurers.
A month after the rollout, concerns about the security of the site are coming to the fore, adding to some Americans’ wariness about entering personal information into the site.
On top of everything, networking problems at Verizon have caused the site to go offline for entire days at a time – including the day Secretary Sebelius testified before Congress.
“This kind of stuff is going to happen,” Kevin Counihan, chief executive of the Connecticut health exchange, told The Washington Post. “It’s just very typical in something this new and complex.”