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Three things we learned from today’s Obamacare update

Every day, usually about 2 p.m. or so, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hosts a half-hour-long call on the status of the insurance marketplace. Now, every day, we here at Wonkblog will update you on what the federal government told us about how Obamacare is going. Without further ado, here is what we learned today!

(REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
(REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

Traffic to is still higher than normal. The site had 310,000 visitors Wednesday morning, which is 80 percent higher than where things were last Wednesday morning, Medicare spokeswoman Juile Bataille said.

The site has been pretty stable with error rates of 0.6 percent and pages loading in 630 milliseconds. is reaching out to shoppers who are stuck. "Consumers who began the process will be hearing from us," Bataille said, noting this outreach could happen over the phone or via e-mail.

Bataille talked a bit about the new "reset" button that shoppers could use to start a new application if the one they started earlier was stuck somewhere. A few shoppers I've talked to have found this new button to be the way to successfully enroll.

"If a consumer is stuck, now they can start over," Bataille said.

Bataille also said that all paper applications submitted in October have now been processed.

Health reporters still want more 834 data. Three reporters, including myself, made another attempt to get information on errors effecting the 834 transmissions, the files the exchange sends to insurance plans when someone signs up for their plan. We know there have been some problems with these transmissions, but don't have a great sense of how many problems -- or how quickly those problems are getting fixed.

"I can appreciate the frustration," Bataille told Bloomberg's Alex Wayne when he brought up the issue. "We believe the vast majority of the fixes are now in place."

Louise Radnofsky from The Wall Street Journal followed up, asking for a reason why the error rate would not be shared. "As I just mentioned, we are actively working with issuers to assess the fixes and validate the numbers," Bataille said.

"We've heard numbers like 80 percent [of the errors were from one bug]," Radnofsky pressed. "There must be a number out there."

"What we've reported on there was that we believed there to be a transaction issue causing those inaccuracies," Bataille responded. "As we validate the assessment of the fixes, we will report on our progress."

"So it's a validation issue?" Radnofsky asked.

Medicare spokesman Richard Olague cut in.

 "We’ll have to move on to the next question," he said.



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Brad Plumer · December 4, 2013

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