The glitch-filled Obamacare health.gov website will be taken down again this weekend during off-peak hours for further repairs. The site will be offline between 1 am and 5 am to allow IT experts to address the ongoing technical problems with the website since its October 1 rollout.
The government also announced that the launch of Spanish-language Obamacare website is being postponed indefinitely.
Officials with the US Department of Health and Human Services (the federal agency implementing Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) haven’t given an estimate as when the Obamcare site — which cost the taxpayer at least $500 million — will be fully up and running “But advocates, lobbyists and industry officials are talking about it as a months-long repair effort,” according to Politico.
In the meantime, traffic to healthcare.gov has dropped 88 percent between October 1 and October 13, and a miniscule number of users (less than one percent) have been able to enroll for health insurance coverage, the Washington Post reported. To make matters worse, NBC News reports “Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.”
As The Inquisitr separately reported, the controversial Obamacare legislation will still fold under its own weight if no one signs up for it or if only sick people do. The marketplaces are open for several months before you have to sign up (or pay the IRS penalty), but very few consumers have actually purchased a plan as yet (despite a reported hundreds of thousands who have visited and created an account).
According to the Huffington Post, “Although there are signs of incremental improvement, healthcare.gov is unable to reliably allow consumers to create accounts, verify their identifies, apply for tax credits available to low- and middle-income people or shop for health insurance plans. Insurers are receiving bad enrollment data and states are reporting difficulties in accessing the federal system.”
“One key problem, which to date has been the most prominent in public, has to do with a late-in-the-game decision to require users to go through a complex account-creation process before even reaching any coverage options. Administration officials apparently went back and forth several times on this question, and the ultimate decision required the creation of a series of patches over an already developed site in a very short time. Most of the problems people have faced so far are a function of that decision, and have had to do with creating user accounts and so getting through the very first steps involved in purchasing coverage. Some journalists and analysts have speculated that this decision was made in order to prevent people from seeing premium costs before they could also see any subsidies they might be eligible for, so that the shock of higher prices could be contained and so that simply curious observers and journalists couldn’t get a picture of premium costs in the various states.”
The Washington Post also floated this same theory in an interview with a healthcare consultant: “But I think what happened was when [the Obama administration] designed their system they were so paranoid about [rate shock] that they wanted to make sure people browsing got the lowest price. That required signing in so you could see subsidies. And my theory is that’s why they went to the architecture they did even though the IT systems people wanted to go another way.”
Forbes.com reached a similar conclusion: “A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away… This political objective — masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans — far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly.”
Some of the options reportedly under consideration include extending the enrollment period beyond March 21, delaying the individual mandate as many lawmakers have recommended, putting enrollment on hold for some period of time, or starting the registration process from scratch after the healthcare.gov glitches have been addressed.