KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Two Weeks In, Still Confronts Technical Difficulties

The volume of visits to the site, as well as the platform's design, are being blamed for the problems. Some experts see the necessary fixes as being projects that could take months to complete.

USA Today: Health Care Exchange Still Plagued By Problems
Two weeks into the launch of the federal health insurance exchange, the website is still plagued with problems, leading critics to wonder if the problem is worse than it appears. There are two key issues at the core of the problem, said Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a health care group. One is the volume, which Health and Human Services estimates at 14.6 million unique visitors, and the second is the platform's design (Kennedy, 10/16).

Politico: Two Weeks In, Obamacare Website Still Broken
The Obamacare enrollment website remains badly broken despite two weeks of intensive round-the-clock efforts at repairs. HHS isn’t making any predictions about how long it will take to fix it — or rebuild it. But advocates, lobbyists and industry officials are talking about it as a months-long repair effort (Chaney, Millman and Haberkorn, 10/16).

Reuters: Insight: As Obamacare Tech Woes Mounted, Contractor Payments Soared
As U.S. officials warned that the technology behind Obamacare might not be ready to launch on October 1, the administration was pouring tens of millions of dollars more than it had planned into the federal website meant to enroll Americans in the biggest new social program since the 1960s. A Reuters review of government documents shows that the contract to build the federal online insurance website - key to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform - tripled in potential total value to nearly $292 million as new money was assigned to the work beginning in April this year (Begley, 10/17).

NPR: If A Tech Company Had Built The Federal Health Care Website was meant to create a simple, easy way for millions of Americans to shop for subsidized health care. Instead, in a little two more than weeks, it has become the poster child for the federal government's technical ineptitude. A dysfunctional contracting system clearly bears some of the blame. But entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley likely would have approached the project differently from the start (Henn, 10/17).

Fox News: Obamacare Sign-Up Numbers Begin To Emerge, Show Slow Start Amid Website Problems
One private-sector analysis showed that, during the first week, less than 1 percent of those who tried to register were able to enroll in a health care plan. The review was released by Kantar US Insights, based on the findings of the Millward Brown Digital research firm. It showed 9.47 million unique visitors to the federal site during the first week, including 3.72 million who tried to register, 1 million successfully registering and 36,000 who completed enrollment. The administration is not yet producing its own figures (10/17).

Meanwhile, California Healthline attempts to ask and answer some important related questions -

California Healthline: Should Obamacare Be Delayed – And More To The Point, Can It?
Under the mandate, millions of Americans who were expected to use the exchanges to obtain health insurance will face fines if they haven't purchased coverage by Feb. 15, raising the question of whether the mandate or other Obamacare provisions should be postponed -- an uncomfortable position for an administration already trying to implement a politically divisive law. But at this late date, what parts of the ACA can legally be delayed? (Diamond, 10/16).

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