TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Problems continue to plague Obamacare site

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 2:18 p.m.
 

Pennsylvanians encountered problems for a second day on Wednesday on a federal website set up for the uninsured to sign up for health insurance coverage under Obamacare.

The website was overwhelmed by technical glitches and the volume of people trying to gain access when it opened for business on Tuesday. The site continued to be sluggish on Wednesday, and officials said they were working to improve its performance.

“We expect to see similar volume as yesterday, and while this overwhelming interest is continuing to cause wait times, there will be continuing improvements in the coming hours and days,” Fabien Levy, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman, said in an email.

The site had 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours, he said.

In some ways, the delays were good news for President Obama and supporters of his signature domestic policy achievement because the difficulties showed what appeared to be an exceptionally high level of interest in the overhauled insurance system. But if the glitches aren't fixed quickly, they could dampen enthusiasm for the law at a time when Republicans are using it as a rallying point to force most of the federal government to shut down.

Healthcare.gov is the federal government's website at which uninsured people in Pennsylvania and more than 30 other states can go to shop for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It is run by the Health and Human Services Department.

The shopping function of the site went live on Tuesday, but larger-than-expected volume and technical glitches kept many people from accessing the site. A check of the site on Wednesday morning found a technical problem that prevented an account from being established.

Users were directed to a “holding page” for several minutes before an account-creation page loads. HHS officials said that was done to accommodate the large volume of users.

Open enrollment for health coverage, which is required by the law, started on Tuesday and continues through March 31.

Three months ago, the Government Accountability Office said a smooth and timely rollout could not be guaranteed because the online system was still getting finishing touches and had not been fully tested. The Obama administration shrugged off the evaluation.

The Obama administration hopes to sign up 7 million people during the first year and aims to eventually sign up at least half of the nearly 50 million Americans who are uninsured through an expansion of Medicaid or government-subsidized plans. Gov. Tom Corbett has joined some other Republican governors in rejecting Medicaid expansion, but he has proposed an alternative that would use the expansion money in Pennsylvania to buy insurance for the poor in the private market.

Many states predicted that an initial surge of interest would test the online system, but they expect most people to sign up closer to Dec. 15, the deadline for coverage to start Jan. 1. Customers have until the end of March to sign up to avoid tax penalties.

The bumpy debut has the hallmarks of a technology project that may have been rushed to meet the Oct. 1 deadline, said Bill Curtis, chief scientist at CAST, a software quality analysis firm, and director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality, which develops standards.

“When you are in a rush, you typically make a lot of mistakes and you don't have time to test them all out,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed. Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
  2. Extended oil slump takes toll
  3. Off-duty but on call: Suits seek overtime
  4. Bond funds hold onto cash
  5. $2-per-gallon gas expected by year’s end, but not in Western Pa.
  6. Muni bond funds stressed
  7. Tech Q&A: Why you should test your router
  8. Companies hand out perks, benefits instead of pay raises
  9. When it comes to home ownership, Hispanics finding locked doors
  10. Of Caitlyn Jenner and workplace restrooms
  11. Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank