With the December 23rd deadline looming for citizens to sign up for health care coverage in order to be covered by January 1, 2014, HealthCare.gov seems to be improving. Since its debut on October 1st, the website has been plagued by software flaws, inadequate equipment and insufficient management. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the government agency tasked with managing the website, released a progress report earlier this month stating that the worst of the online glitches, bugs and delays may be over. The administration met its self-imposed goal of allowing 50,000 people to log onto the website at one time and more than 800,000 people to shop for insurance coverage every day, as of the December 1st deadline to fix the problems. However, problems still remain and the website will continue to be improved upon in the coming months.
The most recent problem reported by website users is the failure of their 834 forms to be submitted to the insurance companies or the forms being submitted with errors. The 834 form is a technical reporting tool that takes the information entered into the system and sends it to the appropriate insurance company. This tool has been used by insurance companies for years. However, insurance companies have been reporting that the 834 forms coming from HealthCare.gove are either a garbled mess or with incorrect information. This could lead to people not being signed up for a plan when they thought they were or a family member being left off a plan, both problems that can lead to headaches for the consumer when they go to use their plan. The administration reported December 16th that all 15,000 consumers affected by the 834 form error have been contacted along with hundreds of thousands of others who experienced problems with the website in October and November and never completed their application. The people contacted are now able to complete the next steps to correctly enroll in their chosen plans.
The issue with the 834 forms is reportedly fixed and according to CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille, the website is now stable and saw almost 500,000 visitors the weekend of December 14th and 15th. Improvements to the website will continue in the coming months. The next deadline after the December 23rd one is March 31st. Citizens without insurance have until that deadline to sign up in order to avoid the tax penalty. So get online and sign up today!
Elliot, Phillip. “Government Diagnosis Finds HealthCare.gov on the Mend”. Legal Ledger. 9 Dec. 2013: 1. Print.
Wall, Katie and Domenico Montanaro. “Gov’t Contacts 15,000 Who Got HealthCare.gov Error Messages”. NBCNews.com. NBC News Digital, 16 Dec.2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.