The White House announced on Sunday morning that it has met its “goal” of ensuring that HealthCare.gov “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users,” noting that the beleaguered site can now accommodate 50,000 concurrent users and 800,000 consumers throughout the day. As a result, close to 80 percent of users can now enroll online, which is up from 30 percent in October.
HealthCare.gov had originally been designed to handle 50,000 visitors, but “as few as” 500 users crippled it in early October, though capacity grew to 25,000 by mid-November.
In an 8-page report filled with performance charts and graphics from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the administration tics off a series of improved metrics: more than 400 bug fixes and software improvements, response time is now running under 1 second, error rates driven down from over 6 percent to under 1 percent, and the system is available 90 percent of the time.
“There is more work to be done to continue to improve and enhance the website and continue to improve the consumer experience in the weeks and months ahead,” the report notes. On a press call with reporters, officials admitted that the site was still at times sending inaccurate enrollment data to insurers through so-called “834 forms” and claimed that the tech team will try to resolve the issue as more users visit the site.
But Jeffrey Zients, the former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget who is overseeing the re-tooling process, claimed on the call that the site is now “night and day” from where it was on Oct. 1. Back then, the site provided “unacceptable user experience,” and “was down an estimated 60 percent of the time.” “Inadequate management oversight and coordination among technical teams prevented real-time decision making and efficient responses to address the issues with the site,” the report admits. By late October, the administration appointed primary HealthCare.gov contractor QSSI as the General Contractor and Systems Integrator to coordinate hardware and software improvements.
Officials said that the administration will now focus on successfully signing-up “those who have tried to enroll in the past” and will later kick off a “sustained, aggressive outreach effort” to target new consumers “by the end of the open enrollment time period.”