The Way it was Supposed to Work? Delays and Glitches Define the Health Law’s Launch

October 1, 2013

This morning Americans across the country took the administration at its word, believing that the health care exchanges were “on track” and would be open for business and the law would be “working the way it is supposed to.” Instead they learned what a former HHS administrator in charge of exchange operations meant when he said today would be “a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.

Reuters reports, “According to early checks, the rollout of the most ambitious U.S. social program in five decades had a rocky start. A federally-run exchange for consumers in 36 states began posting error messages for at least 25 of them soon after the system opened for enrollment at 8 a.m. EDT, citing online traffic as a reason for the difficulties.” The Washington Post adds, “Small business owners had been told they would not be able to enroll in new health care plans online when the federal government’s new insurance exchange opened on Tuesday, but that they would be able to at least view plans and compare prices. It turns out, for the time being, they cannot do that either.”

“The Obama administration repeatedly promised Congress that everything was ‘on track’ for launch today. Sadly, another day, another broken promise. Despite over three and a half years to prepare, we are seeing problems across the country,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “The president recently proclaimed everything is ‘working the way it is supposed to.’ We have a serious problem if this failure to launch is the way Obamacare was supposed to work. Looks like the all systems were not a go.”

Despite the administration’s proclamations otherwise, the troubling reality we are witnessing across the country today is anything but on track:

Connecticut: “People looking for information about Connecticut’s health care exchange ran into an internet traffic jam today. …That elicited one response from a frustrated visitor who said ‘Slow? It doesn’t even work…’”

Florida: “Attempts to register and find out what health care plans were available in Florida were stymied by computer issues that failed to show the security questions needed to establish enrollment. Another glitch filled the enrollment screen with computer coding symbols.”

Kentucky: “Glitches hamper access to Kentucky’s Obamacare website.”  

Louisiana: “Opening day glitches were apparent Tuesday as the online insurance marketplaces at the heart of the national health care overhaul opened.”

Maryland: “The state marketplace where the uninsured can buy health plans beginning Tuesday almost immediately began having problems after its scheduled 8 a.m. launch.”

Michigan: “Healthcare.gov, the enrollment site for consumers trying to access the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, has been giving this message: ‘Health Insurance Marketplace: Please wait.’”

Minnesota: “The state’s new health insurance exchange isn’t expected to be ready for business until Tuesday afternoon, as IT workers spent the morning ensuring the connection to a federal hub was reliable and secure.”

Mississippi: “Those looking to get a jump Tuesday on purchasing health insurance from Mississippi’s exchange had better be ready to wait.”

Nebraska: “The new, federal health care marketplaces are off to a bumpy start in Nebraska, with computer problems that have prevented consumers from signing up for insurance right away.”

New York: “The debut of President Obama’s signature national health insurance exchanges Tuesday was plagued by headache-inducing computer glitches and frustrating delays. …New Yorkers were able to access their state’s ‘Official Health Plan Marketplace,’ but when you clicked the ‘Get Started’ button, an error message appeared despite repeated tries at about 9:30 a.m.”

North Carolina: “North Carolina’s new health insurance marketplace opened Tuesday at 8 a.m. and rolled out slowly as newly trained navigators struggled with an overloaded computer system designed to offer insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”

Oregon: “Cover Oregon officials warned them the website will be available only for limited use, and instructed agents to stop scheduling new Cover Oregon client appointments until further notice.”

Pennsylvania:  “The Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange intended to serve Pennsylvania got off to a rough start.” 

West Virginia: “Jon Tucci stayed up until midnight Monday, hoping to enroll on West Virginia’s new insurance marketplace at the first moment possible. Ten hours later – after two attempts at signing up and one 45-minute call with a consumer service agent – technical glitches have prevented the 60-year-old grandfather from purchasing a plan. …‘This was totally disappointing. I’m just really frustrated.’”

Wisconsin: “The agency funded to help people in northwest Wisconsin enroll in health insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, like most others in the state, won’t have certified helpers by Tuesday’s official start date, its director said.”

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