| USWorld

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

1 in 5 won't get coverage online

Email Newsletters

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

Daily Photo Galleries

From Wire Reports
Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

WASHINGTON — About 1 in 5 visitors to won't be able to buy insurance coverage on Nov. 30, when the bulk of repairs to the troubled website are supposed to be completed, the White House announced on Monday.

According to presidential spokesman Jay Carney, these 20 percent of frustrated site users will fall into three categories: those who aren't comfortable using computers, those who encounter technical problems on the site and those with complicated family situations that make it difficult to determine whether they qualify for subsidies to help pay for coverage.

The disclosure appears to confirm a weekend Washington Post report that said the Obama administration expects 80 percent, or 4 out of 5 website users, to be able to apply and enroll in health plans as of the end of the month.

The 80 percent figure offers the clearest indication yet as to how the administration will measure the success of users' experiences on the website, which has been beset with problems since its ill-fated open enrollment launch on Oct. 1.

For weeks, the administration has steadfastly made assurances that would be functioning properly for the “vast majority” of users by Nov. 30, but it was anybody's guess what number that entailed, because administration officials were careful not to provide a target figure.

Carney ended that mystery.

“Others can decide whether or not 80 percent is a vast majority,” he said during his daily White House news briefing. “I think, in most contexts, it is.”

As the gateway to the federal insurance marketplace that serves 36 states, handles 20,000 to 25,000 simultaneous users, largely without problems, officials say. The site, however, was envisioned to accommodate twice that many. But when user volume climbs too high, the system slows down, and problems develop.

While more than 90 percent of users are able to open personal accounts on the site, as more of them move deeper into the system, more technical problems emerge, which creates a constantly changing “punch list” of high-priority repairs.

In recent weeks, the team of government and private-industry IT experts has rewritten software code, upgraded hardware and expanded the system's capacity to handle more users. During the weekend, the team knocked about 40 items off the punch list, said Julie Bataille, the communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We have a lot more work to do, but as this work demonstrates, is getting better and improving performance and user experiences each week,” Bataille said in a conference call with reporters.

One of the most important repairs remaining deals with the information pages that the system provides to insurers about coverage applicants. These so-called “834s” have been riddled with erroneous information and, despite weeks of repairs, they continue to spit out incorrect data.

“Those remain on our punch list with a few issues still to fix,” Bataille said.

The administration on Monday finished making email contact with the last of 275,000 website users who were unable to complete their insurance applications, she said. Now that the site is functioning better, the administration wants those users to try again.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Iowa ex-lottery security officer hit with new charges
  2. Drone in Ellipse leads to citation for operator
  3. More emails on Benghazi to go public
  4. House OKs end of oil export ban adopted in 1970s in response to Arab embargo
  5. Court blocks Obama water protections
  6. House GOP colleagues pressure Ryan
  7. Arizona, Texas university shootings kill 2
  8. Gun rights supporters protest Obama’s trip to Oregon after campus shooting
  9. Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum goes on display in London
  10. Rail defect cited in West Virginia derailment
  11. Hurricane remnants hit Alaska coast