D-day for HealthCare.gov: Feds say site is fixed

Insurers not so sure the site will be ready for December insurance enrollment deadline

Yesterday the Obama Administration announced that the federal Affordable Care enrollment website HealthCare.gov is working for most users and ready to handle a post-Thanksgiving traffic blitz.

With Americans already online this Cyber Monday and the insurance enrollment deadline looming, today will be a critical test of the website's capacity: Can it handle 50,000 simultaneous users and 800,000 daily visits without crashing?

"The site is performing well today with low overall error rates and response times despite heavier than usual weekend traffic," said Julie Bataille, spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services, in an interview with NBC News. After completing more than 400 fixes, government officials noted that the site worked 95 percent of the time Saturday, up from 43 percent last month, according to a Hill's HealthWatch article.  

Jeff Zeints, former White House budget director appointed to manage the fix, said there's a "night and day" difference between today's HealthCare.gov and the version released in October, the Hill reported.

Still, neither the Obama Administration nor insurers are celebrating too soon: HHS officials asked supporters not to drive multitudes to the site until it's clear what it can handle. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is telling people to "shop HealthCare.gov during off-peak hours," NBC noted.

To ease the crunch, the White House delayed launching an online health insurance marketplace for small businesses until November due to continuing repairs, ABC News reported.

But insurers are still worried fixes may not come in time for mandated coverage to kick in just 30 days from now.

''Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,'' said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, notes CNBC.

Payers have taken a toe-in-the-water approach to advertising on the site until they're sure of its reliability, FierceHealthPayer reported recently.

Meanwhile, the news is full of armchair quarterback advice about how executives can learn from the Administration's long and painful road to website functionality

CIO.com, for example, offers four criteria to evaluate IT vendors. And the Washington Post recommends CEOs take aggressive steps to learn both good news and bad news about high-risk projects, especially when employees are disinclined to report it.     

To learn more:
- see the NBC News article
- read the Hill's Healthwatch article
- check out the ABC News report
- see the CIO.com article
- read the Washington Post article
- here's the CNBC story

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