HealthCare.gov Probably Won't Be Ready by Deadline

Insurers seek direct way to sign up customers

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 13, 2013 7:55 AM CST

(Newser) – The Obama administration has pledged to get HealthCare.gov running smoothly by Nov. 30, but an insider tells the Washington Post that's looking like a pipe dream. For one thing, it can only deal with half the traffic it's supposed to handle—it runs into problems when 20,000 to 30,000 users try to get on simultaneously. Meanwhile, the top contractor behind the site, CGI Federal, has only been able to fix some 60% of the issues it's been working on. A health department official defends the progress: "The challenges we are addressing today are a snapshot of November 12, not November 30."

Those involved in the process say Americans will have to turn to other enrollment methods if they want quick access to ObamaCare. But the government is showing more confidence: This week, officials began emailing 275,000 people whose initial attempts at enrollment didn't work, urging them to give it another try, NBC News reports. In other HealthCare.gov news:

  • Insurance companies are looking to take matters into their own hands, asking the government for a way to bypass the system to take on those who qualify for subsidies. That would require access to federal information on people's subsidy entitlements, and officials are worried about privacy violations. Another option: Americans could estimate their subsidies with their insurers, leaving federal officials to confirm the figures in the future, the New York Times reports.
  • Senators, led by Democrat Kay Hagan of North Carolina, are pressing for an independent investigation into the site's problems. In a letter obtained by Fox News, they're calling on the Government Accountability Office and the health department's inspector general to take action: "Taxpayers are owed a full and transparent accounting of how the vendors contracted to build the site failed to launch it successfully."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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