Nearly three weeks into the launch of the online health insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, the administration responded to the long laundry list of issues the site has been facing.
The Health and Human Services Department also broke the silence, with a blog on its site explaining the failures and complications users have been experiencing and its strategy for solving said issues.
HHS admits the consumer experience of healthcare.gov has not lived up to its expectations and attributes the issues with the service to the high volume of visitors to the site.
In an address in the Rose Garden Monday morning, President Barack Obama repeatedly enforced the idea the health coverage itself is good, despite challenges with the site.
“The product is good,” Obama said. “We want the cash registers to work, and we want checkout lines to be smooth — that way people can get this great product.”
According to the HHS blog, once it became apparent the site was having user issues, a virtual “waiting room” was set up to accommodate individuals experiencing long wait times. As people worked to add more capacity to the service and fix software issues, the virtual “waiting room” was removed.
One factor the president repeatedly argued in his address was how early in the enrollment process it actually is; this week is the third into the six-month-long enrollment process.
“The insurance plans don’t run out, they won’t sell out,” Obama said. “They’ll be available to the marketplace and prices will not change. Everyone who wants it will get it, period.”
HHS and the president both said in response to the issues the site has been experiencing, high-level private sector tech folks have been called from across the country to help. As a matter of fact, industry professionals have already been reaching out to volunteer their expertise, Obama said.
Tools and monitoring systems have been put in place to screen and fix any issues that arise. There are now new test processes established to prevent new issues and more efficiently fix issues that occur during peak hours of usage.
As for the politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act, the president said it’s time to stop rooting for the failure of the program.
“With the website not working as well as it needs to work, it makes supporters nervous,” Obama said. “We did not wage a long and contentious battle about a website.”
In lieu of the problems it has had, the healthcare.gov homepage was updated to inform users of other options for enrollment besides using the online marketplace.