Reviews mixed for 'fixed' health care website

Some said the Monday's relaunch -- marked by heavy traffic -- was "rocky" and "bumpy," but administration officials maintained the user experience was much smoother as a result of fixes.   

Los Angeles Times: Has Rocky Relaunch
The Obama administration's overhauled health care website got off to a bumpy relaunch Monday as a rush of consumers caused an uptick in errors and forced the administration to put thousands of shoppers on the site on hold. … Bataille said about 375,000 visitors went to the site before noon, about double the normal traffic for a Monday morning. The volume caused pages to load slowly and the rate of errors to spike. About 10 a.m. EST, federal officials turned on a new queuing system that alerts some visitors to the site to come back later (Levey, 12/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Updated Gets Mixed Reviews
helping people use the federal government's online health exchange are giving mixed reviews to the updated site, with some zipping through the application process while others are facing the same old sputters and even crashes. The Obama administration had promised a vastly improved shopping experience on by the end of November, and Monday was the first business day since the date passed (12/3).

The Washington Post: Heavy Traffic On After Fixes; Users Report Mixed Results On Insurance Site
The White House announced early Sunday that, given the recent improvements in the site, most shoppers should be able to have an experience like Issa's. By 10 a.m., however, the Web site seemed to be struggling with high traffic. Federal health officials said they saw an increase in error rates and a slowdown in response times and decided to deploy "queueing" software designed to limit the number of users permitted on the site at one time (Kliff and Sun, 12/2).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Administration: Bugs Reduced At
For the first time since its mangled Oct. 1 launch, users can now go to the federal government's insurance enrollment website and get detailed information about the costs and benefits of health plans in their county without first enrolling (Galewitz, 12/2).

Reuters: Retooled Obamacare Website Traffic Surges But Problems Remain
A surge of visitors clogged the U.S. government's revamped health care insurance shopping website on Monday, signaling that President Barack Obama's administration has a way to go in fixing the portal that showcases his signature domestic policy. Facing its first big test since officials proclaimed over the weekend that they had met their deadline to make run smoothly for the "vast majority" of users, the site performed markedly better than it did during its disastrous launch two months ago -- but was still short of the crisply running insurance marketplace Obama once touted (Morgan and Krauskopf, 12/2).

Bloomberg: Health Exchange Insurer Bug Fixed As 800,000 Try Website
More than 800,000 visitors gave the hobbled Obamacare website another chance as the government continued to work on software repairs, including a fix to the system that sends customer data to insurers. The rush yesterday to followed a Dec. 1 report saying that six weeks of work had improved its use for most consumers (Wayne, 12/3).

McClatchy: HealthCare.Gov Usage Soars In December
The troubled website was on pace to double its typical weekday volume of users, logging 375,000 unique visitors by noon Monday with more than 800,000 site visitors expected by day's end, the Obama administration said. Officials expected site usage to soar in December as people scurry to enroll in coverage by Dec. 23 in order to have insurance that begins on January 1, 2014. Monday's early volume proved those projections correct (Pugh, 12/2).

CQ HealthBeat: Healthcare.Gov Showing Strain As Volume Increases
Federal officials started diverting consumers from the federal health marketplace website on Monday after they saw worrisome response times and error rates when about 35,000 people were on at the same time. Previously, they said they would put consumers in a queueing system when there were 50,000 users at a time (Adams, 12/2).

The Hill: Back-Up System Goes Into Effect For HealthCare.Gov
A back-up system was deployed for on Monday at a lower traffic rate than federal officials projected, signaling there could be further trouble with the system. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) acknowledged that the site's try-again-later system was initiated as roughly 35,000 users tried to access at the same time (Viebeck, 12/2).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Many Consumers Report Improvements With
Vickie Fleisher-Gann had been trying since Oct. 1 to complete her Obamacare application so she could start shopping for insurance on, but she kept getting stopped by error messages. With her policy expiring at the end of the year, she feared time was running out. On Sunday morning, the former Harrisburg, Pa., hospital administrator finally was able to complete her application, shop for a plan and enroll -- all within about 30 minutes. "I was shocked when it worked," said Fleisher-Gann, 61. "I just couldn't believe it" (Galewitz, 12/2). 

CBS News: Shoppers, Insurers Still Face HealthCare.Gov Hiccups
Despite promises the website could handle 50,000 users at the same time, the queuing system was turned on Monday at approximately 35,000 users. Officials said they had to "maximize the smooth user experience" for those who applied first. There are also potential problems for the thousands who have signed up for new plans (Andrews, 12/2).

Meanwhile, here's how the website is being viewed in specific states --

Kansas Health Institute: Healthcare.Gov Better In Kansas But Still Slowed By High Traffic
Despite improvements made since its disastrous October launch, the website today was still not able to seamlessly handle large numbers of consumers attempting to sign up by a Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that starts Jan. 1. Kansas is one of 36 states that chose to rely on the federal website rather than build one of its own (McLean, 12/2).

Miami Herald: Healthcare.Gov Improved, But South Florida Users Still Stymied
Long waits, error messages, unresponsiveness. Hallmarks of the troubled launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace at continued to stymie South Florida residents and counselors trying to access the website on Monday -- more than two months after the Oct. 1 launch, and despite the government's self-imposed deadline of Nov. 30 for the system to function smoothly for the "vast majority of Americans" (Chang and Borns, 12/2).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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