The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been plagued by problems, and the issues with the website – HealthCare.gov – which is the main portal for people who are looking to sign up for insurance, have been among the most important of those difficulties.
According to the government’s own numbers, approximately 106,000 people signed up for health plans through the new state and federal insurance marketplaces in the first month they were operational. And fewer than 27,000 of them did so on HealthCare.gov.1
Troubled website leads to low enrollment
The government originally projected enrollment numbers near 500,000 for the first month of the marketplaces so the actual figures fell well short of expectations.
The glitches in the HealthCare.gov website have been the most cited reason for the disappointingly low enrollment rates. Many people who have tried to sign up for insurance through the portal have been met with error messages, long wait times and non-functioning applications.
Controversy over existing health plans
One of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act rollout has been the fact that many Americans who had insurance that was considered substandard by the government are being kicked off those plans. That comes despite previous comments from government officials promising Americans they would be able to keep their current policies if that’s what they preferred.
It has led to a firestorm in Congress and the introduction of a bill that would allow those people who are losing their current insurance plans to hold on to them.
Time running out
Another problem facing government officials and citizens alike is the approaching deadline for individuals to sign up for health insurance. Anyone who doesn’t sign up by March 31, 2014, will face a tax penalty, and that deadline, along with the technical issues, might lead to a delay in the full implementation of the law, according to USA Today.2
In response to the issues with the website, government officials have claimed that a team of IT specialists is working around the clock to solve the problems.
The current prediction is that the entire process will be finished by the end of November, enabling people to have full and unimpeded access to the health care exchanges by the beginning of December. However, members of both political parties have expressed their doubts about that timeline.
1 Goldstein, Amy; Kane, Paul, “Administration: 106,000 Enrolled in Health Insurance in First Month of Healthcare.gov,” Washington Post, Nov. 13, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-committee-hears-from-technology-officials-on-health-care-exchanges/2013/11/13/91d0bc5a-4c6e-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html
2 Goldstein, Amy; Kane, Paul, “Administration: 106,000 Enrolled in Health Insurance in First Month of Healthcare.gov,” Washington Post, Nov. 13, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-committee-hears-from-technology-officials-on-health-care-exchanges/2013/11/13/91d0bc5a-4c6e-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html