(ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE) -- Here's some good news about HealthCare.gov: 90 percent of the people who gave up on the federal insurance exchange during its troubled start have now been able to create accounts through the website.
That's according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which updated reporters Monday afternoon on efforts to fix the website's problems. CMS has been sending "try us again" emails to 275,000 users who ran into problems when HealthCare.gov was launched Oct. 1.
COMPLETE COVERAGE | The Affordable Care Act
It's comforting to hear that 90 percent of these users who gave
HealthCare.gov another chance are having success the second time around,
at least in creating accounts. But CMS didn't disclose how many of the
275,000 frustrated users actually came back to the site. One bad
experience could be enough for some folks.
But the team in charge of making HealthCare.gov fully functional "made
measurable progress" over the weekend, reports CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille. The website is faster and fewer error messages are popping up.
"It's a more reliable system that it had been several weeks ago," Bataille said.
By the end of November, the site will work smoothly for the "vast
majority" of Americans, she said, echoing the phrase Obama
administration officials have been using for the past week. A vast majority means 80 percent, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Some people will run into technical difficulties, or will start the
process of enrolling online but decide they aren't comfortable doing
this by themselves, Bataille said. Others may have complex personal or
family situations that may be better served in person or by a call
center representative, she said.
Bataille also said CMS soon will announce when small businesses can
start enrolling online for coverage through the Small Business Health
Options Program. Coverage through the new federal SHOP exchange is open to employers with fewer than 50 employees, but it's currently available only through paper applications.
The Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a
hearing Wednesday on where things stand with the federal SHOP exchange
and exchanges for small businesses in states that opted to set up their
own health insurance marketplaces.
CMS better have some specific answers on the SHOP exchange by then or Sen. Mary Landrieu, the committee's chair, won't be happy. The Louisiana Democrat faces a tough re-election campaign, and she needs health care reform to start working.
(Atlanta Business Chronicle)