Government urges public to retry improved health exchange

WASHINGTON – Confident that repairs to its HealthCare.gov website are progressing as planned, the Obama administration has begun notifying 275,000 people who couldn’t enroll in coverage at the troubled website’s Oct. 1 debut to try again.

“Those consumers who have perhaps created an account, but not submitted an application; those consumers who have submitted an application, but not selected a plan; those would be the kinds of individuals that we anticipate reaching out to and speaking with directly over time,” said Julie Bataille, the communications director for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Consumers in 36 states served by the federal health insurance marketplace were frustrated when the system portal, HealthCare.gov, malfunctioned minutes after open enrollment for 2014 coverage began. The problems, which stemmed from inadequate testing and a lack of capacity to handle the deluge of users, continued for weeks, leaving people unable to open personal accounts and enroll in new health care offerings.

The botched rollout spawned a series of congressional inquiries and has become a political and public relations black eye for President Barack Obama and his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

A team of government and private information technology experts has been working to fix the website and the improvements have been noticeable, with faster speed, more efficient page loads and a decline in error messages. While problems remain, officials say the marketplace will be functioning properly for the majority of users by the end of November.

With that in mind, administration officials on Tuesday began emailing the first wave of 275,000 initial users who didn’t complete the enrollment process to ask them to revisit the website and finish what they started.

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