On Sunday, the Obama administration issued a report on the status of HealthCare.gov, the federal government's web site for signing up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post reports the administration saying that it had reached its goal of improving the health insurance web page market place so that it works well for the vast majority of users. They said that it is working more than 90 percent of the time.
In a teleconference with reporters on Sunday morning, Jeffrey Zients said "HealthCare.gov on December 1st is night and day from where it was on October 1st." In the last week of October, Zients was assigned by Obama the job of overseeing the fix to the health care site. At the time Zients said, "It will take a lot of work and there are a lot of problems that will need to be addressed, but the bottom line is that it is fixable. By the end of November, the vast majority of consumers will be able to successfully and smoothly enroll through Healthcare.gov,"
Sunday's announcement was an attempt to say that the promise has largely been kept, while still acknowledging that much remains to be accomplished. The conclusion to the progress report says, "There is more work to be done to continue to improve and enhance the website and continue to improve the consumer experience in the weeks and months ahead." The report concludes that there is now an error rate below 1% and a capacity to allow 50,000 users to simultaneously use the site.
But there are problems that lurk beneath the surface. Matthew Yglesias reports for Slate that "To truly work, Healthcare.Gov needs to accurately convey subsidy information to people and then accurately convey enrollment information to insurers. These are, as I understand it, the more technically challenging aspects of the project."
American Health Care Insurance Plans spokesman Robert Zirkelbach told FoxNews.com that health insurance companies are receiving duplicate and inaccurate forms, and in some cases not getting the enrollment forms at all.
One small bright spot may be that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has successfully enrolled in health insurance through Healthcare.gov.
Before Obamacare, senators, congressman and their official staff members were eligible for health care coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit program which offers health plans to employees of the federal government and is considered to provide some of the best health insurance in the country. The government, as their employer, contributes a large share of the cost. Under the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress and official staff will have to give up their eligibility for FEHB benefits and enroll in a plan at Healthcare.gov. However, the federal government will continue to contribute a large share of the cost of the plans.