“Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans,” HHS officials said in a blog post Sunday afternoon, acknowledging what has been obvious to millions of insurance seekers who live in the three dozen states relying on the federal exchange. For the first time, the administration appealed to people to report their interactions, good or bad, with the exchange, a core element of the 2010 health-care law.
Read more about the rollout of the new health-care law.
President Obama is expected to address the site’s technical problems — “troubles that he and his team find unacceptable” — at a White House event Monday to highlight the law, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the event has not yet taken place.
“I think that there’s no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the Web site,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The remarks Sunday, and Obama’s expected comments Monday, represent a slight strategic shift for an administration that has repeatedly refused to say publicly exactly what is wrong with the site or what is being done to fix it. The new tack offers a bit more information while allowing officials to strike a sympathetic tone toward consumers exasperated by their experiences.
Even now, administration officials are declining to disclose many details about the debugging effort. They will not say how many experts — whom they describe as “the best and the brightest” — are on the team, when the team began its work or how soon the site’s flaws might be corrected. Still, in talking about the repairs, administration officials for the first time conceded that the site’s problems extend beyond well-publicized front-end obstacles, such as with setting up a personal account.
Since the exchange opened, officials at the White House and HHS had until now insisted that the site’s problems were caused primarily by its popularity — that more people were trying to get on than could be accommodated at once. Even Sunday, the HHS spokesman said the “main driver of the problems is volume.”
Yet insurance companies, consumers and health policy experts have noticed problems that occur further along in the process of using the exchange. The Web site sometimes gives inaccurate information about the federal tax credits that will help most people pay for a health plan, they say. And it sometimes erroneously tells low-income people that they are not eligible for Medicaid.