President Obama recently addressed concerns about HealthCare.gov, reassuring Americans that the foundation of the Affordable Care Act is sound, the website needs some work, and no one is more annoyed about the problems that he is.
“There’s no sugarcoating it,” Obama said on Monday as he addressed the rollout of the government’s online healthcare exchanges. “The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process.”
Throughout the month of October, millions of people visited HealthCare.gov to review their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act. The federal website is used by the residents of states that opted out of building their own healthcare exchanges. With underwhelming performance and numerous glitches, the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) is feeling the pressure of launching and fixing bugs in the system in real-time.
“Experts from some of America’s best private-sector tech companies” want to help, President Obama said from the Rose Garden recently. This sort of public/private partnership may be the key to success—although others say it’s a bit late in the game. The task is daunting. Some estimates are that five million lines of code need to be rewritten.
HHS has also learned many valuable lessons during this process. In some cases, they discovered that benefits like a “virtual waiting room,” which was designed to simplify the process, were too confusing for users and needed to be eliminated. In other cases, they learned that monitoring and responding quickly to errors will go a long way to making improvements in the system.
“We’re putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them,” read a recent blog post on HHS. “We are also defining new test processes to prevent new issues from cropping up as we improve the overall service and deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis.”
While the issues around HealthCare.gov are providing rich fodder for critics and comics, Americans who had looked to the Affordable Healthcare Act to fill a void are feeling true frustration. And for government employees just coming back from furlough or who had to put in extra hours during the shut-down, the jokes may be falling flat. Making matters more complex are reports that tests of the website predicted these issues before the October 1 launch.
What do you think? Are the issues around Healthcare.gov affecting federal employee morale? Is a public/private partnership the answer to solving the problems? Drop us a comment below.