Obamacare Website Aims to Lure Back 275,000 Frustrated Users

The Obama administration is sufficiently confident in technical fixes to HealthCare.gov that it has formally begun summoning frustrated consumers back to the troubled online health insurance portal to try again.

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services today announced it has begun emailing 275,000 Americans who attempted to create an account on the website shortly after Oct. 1, but could not do so because of software glitches.

We are "inviting them to come back in," CMS communications director Julie Bataille said on a conference call with reporters. "We have addressed the majority of issues associated with that account creation process … those are communications that begin today and continue through the end of the week."

Bataille said the email blast is the first of several planned "waves" of outreach to lure back frustrated customers. Asked whether the agency believes the revamped website can handle the volume of traffic, Bataille said it is. "Their experience will be a positive one," she said.

CMS made several hardware and software "enhancements" to the website this weekend, crossing off "dozens of outstanding issues" from the punch list, Bataille said. Consumers can now more easily save and upload documentation, for example, and compare plans that would include a tax credit.

The administration is sticking to its promise that the site will be "working smoothly" for the "vast majority" of users by the end of this month.

As for the highly anticipated October enrollment numbers, Bataille said they will be released later this week, as promised, but she would not specify a day.

The administration will define "enrollment" as "those individuals who have submitted an application and selected a plan," she said, a looser measure than the insurance industry's definition, which is when a consumer made the first premium payment.