HealthCare.gov’s glitches prompt Obama to call in a team of expert troubleshooters – Washington Post
The Obama administration said Sunday that it has brought in computer experts from across the government and private companies to help rewrite computer code and make other improvements to the online health insurance marketplace, which has been beset by technical defects that have daunted consumers since it opened nearly three weeks ago.
According to a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department, the team working to fix the new federal health insurance exchange has created new ways of monitoring which parts of the Web site, HealthCare.gov, are balking, while taking down the site for more rigorous tests overnight. And for the first time, administration officials have sent out an appeal, urging Americans trying to sign up for coverage to report their experiences with the exchange, good or bad.
“Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans,” HHS officials said in an agency blog post Sunday afternoon — acknowledging what millions of insurance-seekers already have discovered in the three dozen states that have chosen to rely on the federal insurance exchange rather than building their own.
Sunday’s explanations amount to a subtle strategic shift for an administration that has been slow to say publicly exactly what is going wrong with the exchange, which is at the heart of a major federal law to revise the U.S. health-care system — or exactly what is being done to fix it.
Even now, administration officials are not disclosing important details, including when the expanded team of what they called “the best and brightest” began its work — or when anyone hopes to have the flaws corrected. Still, the new explanation is, in essence, the administration’s most specific admission to date that the new online health insurance marketplace is balking in ways that reach beyond the front-end obstacles many consumers have faced in getting onto the Web site and creating an account.
The White House has said it does not plan to release data on how many people have enrolled until sometime in November. On Sunday, though, the administration said that nearly a half-million Americans had filed applications for insurance through the federal exchange or the 14 separate state exchanges. Applying is an earlier step in the process, in which people submit, for instance, information necessary to tell them whether they qualify for federal subsidies. Only after their application is accepted can they shop for health plans in their area and go on to enroll in a plan.