The Obama administration announced Sunday that it had met its deadline for improving HealthCare.gov after myriad technical issues plagued the launch of the online health insurance marketplace.
After hundreds of software fixes and hardware upgrades to the government-run site, "we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users," according to a report (PDF) released Sunday by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The launch of HealthCare.gov on October 1 was met with complaints of bugs and slow load times that prevented millions of people from searching for coverage.
"The bottom line, HealthCare.gov on December 1 is night and day from where it was on October 1," Jeffrey Zients, a former acting director at the White House Office of Management and Budget who was tapped to supervise the repairs, told reporters Sunday. When the site launched, it had "an unacceptable user experience, marked by very slow response times, inexplicable user error messages, and frequent website crashes and user outages," he said.
During much of its first month, HealthCare.gov was down about 60 percent of the time due to hundreds of software bugs and insufficient hardware, according to the report. The situation was exasperated by insufficient systems monitoring and inadequate management oversite.
As a result of the overhaul, the site's uptime is now more than 90 percent and its error rate is below 1 percent, the DHHS report said. Turning in an average page response time of less than a second, the site can now accommodate 50,000 users at the same time and at least 800,000 visits per day.
While the report claims that "dramatic progress" has been made toward improving consumer experience on the site, it cautions that "there is more work to be done to continue to improve and enhance the website" in the coming weeks.
This Web site is the centerpiece of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, and there have already been plenty of hearings at the US Capitol to determine who to pin the blame on within the administration. Obama himself deemed the glitches as unacceptable, saying last month that the online health insurance marketplace "has not lived up to the expectations of the American people."
Tony Trenkle, who oversaw the site's creation as the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced his resignation in November. His departure "to take a position in the private sector" was framed at the time by the CMS as part of a management restructuring within the department.