Sebelius: Healthcare.gov ‘Significantly Different’ for Nov. 30 Deadline

Nov 26, 2013 2:20pm

With the self-imposed deadline to fix Healthcare.gov quickly approaching, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured state and local elected officials Tuesday that the troubled Obamacare website is “definitely on track” to improve by the end of November.

“We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of this month,” Sebelius said in a conference call with state and local officials Tuesday.

“This isn’t a  magic turn on the on switch.  The experience is vastly improved each and every day,” she added.  “We are seeing more and more enrollments each and every day. A very different kind of user issues.  We’ve added hardware. We’ve added software. We’re continuing to work on the parts of the website that were too confusing to people and well beyond December 1, those improvements will continue.  We get feedback on a regular basis from user experiences.  We want to continue to update this.”

After the botched rollout of the site, the White House imposed a Nov. 30 deadline for Healthcare.gov to properly function for the “vast majority” of users.  Sebelius told lawmakers Tuesday they should encourage their constituents to sign up for coverage on Healthcare.gov as the administration continues to make improvements to the site.

“I would urge you and your folks on the ground to not hesitate to recommend that people go to Healthcare.gov and get signed up because that experience is currently working much better and it will continue to work much better,” Sebelius said.

But the Nov. 30 deadline doesn’t mean all the problems with the site will be cured.  In a conference call Monday, Julie Bataille, director for the Office of Communications at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, warned that new “glitches” may arise.

“As we move forward, we will find additional glitches and experience intermittent periods of suboptimal performance,” said Bataille.  “As we make these improvements, we expect to see intermittent periods when the system may be slow or not responsive. But we’ve made measurable progress and we are moving forward.

“There will be times when volume on healthcare.gov will exceed this demand and we are preparing for that,” Bataille continued. “If we experience extraordinary demand, consumers may not immediately be able to complete the application, but they will be queued in order to ensure a smoother process.”

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