Today’s the busiest online shopping day of the year, so it seems like a good time to check in on Healthcare.gov, the new online insurance marketplace created by Health and Human Services. Saturday was the deadline the administration had set to have the site up and running at full capacity without all the technical glitches that were experienced early on. So how are they doing?
So-so. The site certainly isn’t “fixed” – at least not completely. But it is working significantly better than it was just a few weeks ago, so that’s probably a win for the administration. However, they’re not out of the woods yet. There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of people to enroll, and the deadline for a January 1st effective date is quickly approaching.
Since the disastrous rollout and President Obama’s pledge to fix the site, the capacity has been increased significantly. As Kelly Kennedy with USA Today explains, servers have been added, software has been updated, and hardware has been replaced. Today, the site can handle “50,000 simultaneous users and more than 800,000 total consumer visits a day.” That’s enough capacity to enroll 1.84 million people by December 23rd for a January 1st effective date and 9.5 million people during the 6-month initial enrollment period that ends March 31st. They’ve also made the site less confusing and easier for consumers to navigate and have begun emailing “people who had tried early on to enroll but found their applications permanently stuck.”
What’s Still Broken
But the site’s not perfect yet – far from it. There are still major security concerns; the back-end functionality that will make sure insurance companies are paid for people receiving premium tax credits still isn’t finished; and, as we learned the day before Thanksgiving, the SHOP exchange has been delayed until November 2014.
One other issue that has a big impact on agents and brokers is that people are still having trouble enrolling directly through the insurance company’s website. As explained in an NBC News article, when the direct enrollment feature finally “works as it should, people should be able to go directly to a health insurer’s site and sign up with a small detour to HealthCare.gov to see if they are eligible for a subsidy. That function is barely working now.”
It is what it is
So that’s where we are. It’s not yet perfect, but it is what it is, and the January 1st deadline is quickly approaching, so agents need to act quickly. With so many people needing assistance and so little time to help them, brokers who have the capacity to assist multiple individuals at once are well-positioned. One way to do that is by setting up a private exchange site. If you haven’t yet done that, you can learn about it here.