These two paragraphs say everything about HealthCare.gov’s problems

December 3, 2013

(AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

You should really just read the entire piece by Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin in today's Washington Post, which is a great account of where things stand now with HealthCare.gov. These two paragraphs, taken together, jumped out at me especially in explaining the challenges that the website now faces.

Paragraph one:

The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.

 

Paragraph two:

By 6 p.m. Monday, the Web site had had close to 800,000 unique visitors – one of the administration’s targets for the site’s performance — and was set to pass that mark by the end of the day, according to administration officials. And the site processed 18,000 enrollments in the most recent 24-hour period, nearly double the previous record.

 

This sounds similar to the situation that insurance executives describe as especially worrisome, one where the front-end of HealthCare.gov gets fixed, and a flood of applications comes in, before the back-end enrollment issues are corrected.

The administration has made it clear, for weeks now, that it has prioritized fixing the front-end system that has frustrated customers. Most of the metrics for success it cited in its Sunday progress report centered on those parts of the site, like how long it takes each page to load and the number of pages that turn up an error.

The backend fixes have come later: It was just Monday that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it had identified and fixed the source of about 80 percent of the errors with 834 transmissions, the files that tell insurance companies when people have signed up for their plans.

Insurance companies haven't seen that fix come through in practice yet. Reached by the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein this afternoon, American's Health Insurance Plan spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said that "health plans continue to experience significant problems with the ‘834’ enrollment files."

If enrollment continues to pick up, you can bet that insurance companies will be anxiously waiting for the 834 fixes to kick in--and hoping that happens sooner, rather than later.

 

 

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Evan Soltas | December 3, 2013