Have you gotten through to healthcare.gov yet?

Have you gotten through to healthcare.gov yet?

Summary: I'm one of the many who had trouble getting through to healthcare.gov to apply. In fact, I couldn't even create an account. It's too soon to tell, but I'm still concerned.

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Happy Obamacare Day!

I have health insurance and wouldn't change it casually, but I figured I'd go to healthcare.gov today and see what the new exchange policies would cost me.  It didn't work out so well, and (as  my colleague Rachel King has reported), I'm not alone.

Several times I went to the site and, as required in order to proceed, I tried to create an account. The initial account creation process worked smoothly (I do have one complaint and some praise, see below) but after I submitted the request it spun wheels for a couple minutes and then this:

healthcare.gov.error.620

Four times I tried.

I live in New Jersey which chose not to create a state exchange, so the Federal government operates one for us, as directed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), better known as Obamacare.

It's hardly a surprise that the site would be especially busy today, so I'm reserving judgment on it (and on the law itself, as I still don't know what it will cost me). But I do think there's some reason for concern.

One person tried to compare it to me with the delays users experience downloading iOS 7 on the first day, but I don't think it's a good analogy. iOS 7 is a download in the hundreds of megabytes, many of which users were accessing through wireless networks. Bandwidth contention is completely predictable.

When I tried to create an account on healthcare.gov, I had no trouble connecting to the front-end web server. Getting to the login form took a while; I was presented with this:

Health Insurance Marketplace: Please wait

We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!

That delay took several minutes. It's not an especially sophisticated queuing system. The page contains this:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" CONTENT="30;URL=">

For those of you who don't write HTML, that means that it reloads the page every 30 seconds.

Once I got through to the login page, filling out the forms to create an account was smooth and quick. It's the back-end processing systems that couldn't handle the load. This too may be reasonable on day 1, but so far it's certainly no reason to be impressed with their transaction processing capabilities.

They're going to pay the price in support for it, but I admire the site designers for having fairly strict username and password rules. Here they are:

The username is case sensitive. Choose a username that is 6-74 characters long and must contain a lowercase or capital letter, a number, or one of these symbols _.@/-


Your password must contain 8-20 characters. There must be at least 1 upper case letter, 1 lower case letter, and 1 number. It must be different from your last 6 passwords. It can't contain your username or any of these characters = ?<> ( ) ‘ " / \ &

These are strict enough that lots of people are going to trip up on them, but it's the right thing to do. Probably because they know there will be problems, the site also requires that you choose 3 of challenge questions and provide answers:

challenge-questions

Personally, I had trouble coming up with a third that I would be sure of. I much prefer when sites allow you to provide both the question and answer, something very personal that only I would know and would never forget.

So, in all fairness, it's too soon to tell if they did a good job on the web site part of this. I do hope things are better tomorrow, or at least before open enrollment is done.

Topics: Government US, Security

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13 comments
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  • HHS Missed A Golden Opportunity here to call insurance exchanges a "BETA"

    That's what we have going here and when's the last time you saw Microsoft or Apple put out a new operating system without a beta? I think they missed boat with a little PR as people know beta means bugs will be around. Hats off though to all the tech folks that have worked and will continue to work on the IT infrastructure of the insurance exchanges...not one might word of thanks from Sebelius for any of these folks either...she's too Algo Duped..this is about the best you get from her as she no tech background and wants to hurry and water board the tech folks I guess..

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/02/speed-up-rate-of-change-in-health.html

    Again if you call it a beta then there's more understanding from the public I think and besides the contingencies are there to do it manually so people can still enroll with or without the websites working:)
    MedicalQuack
  • Why fret?

    You have 6 months to use it and choose a plan if that is what you want. Obviously the first week will be hit heavy with traffic.
    D.J. 43
  • No Faith!

    They can't run a website and I'm supposed to trust them to run a healthcare system?
    Neverhood
    • Use the faith

      You had in Cheney and Bush to base an entire war on lies. Still can't find those WMDs, huh?
      D.J. 43
      • Idiot

        Obama Loser has been in office 5 years and has ruined this great company. Now lets start blaming Obama. Bush has not been in office for over 5 years.
        ludsam
      • IDIOT

        Yea.. We found them in Syria where BUSH said they were moving them too..
        JJones884
  • Our Experience was a Technical Disaster

    The Healthcare.gov site is a complete technical disaster that won't be easily solved. That thing didn't fail because of too many users. It's designed poorly, developed badly, and seemingly untested. There are management problems to deliver something that's not ready for beta testing much less a national rollout. It was such a mess I wrote a blog about our experience with it including several screenshots of the crashes I encountered: http://blog.fmsinc.com/healthcare-gov-is-a-technological-disaster/

    I'd be quite ashamed if my firm delivered something of that quality. Have the developers ever created a commercial application? Unbelievable.
    Luke_Chung
    • Disaster

      I agree. The company that developed this website should be identified so no one uses them
      ludsam
  • Hoping for failure

    Read between the lines, and it sounds like some people here are fearing this thing will be popular, which would give the teabag party dweebs one less issue to bitch about. God forbid insurance companies get more competition and more people don't flood the emergency rooms anymore because they didn't have affordable health insurance. You know, there is also the telephone and paper applications to get people signed up, even in the 21st Century. By the way, which would you rather use: Obamacare or your the Affordable Care Act?
    D.J. 43
  • Conspiracy Theorist

    So I was able to set up a log in and password but nothing else. I keep getting the error pages. I also keep getting the "So much traffic on the Website" even at 4am in the morning EST. So from 1 am PCT to 4am EST the website has millions of users on it and that is why I can't proceed....ha...ha.

    OH! By the way did I mention that I am from the State of Florida? Did I mention that Governor Rick Scott is dead set against AHC? Could this be hackers hired to keep the site down so the sign ups continue to be slow. Then the anti Obama Care folks can cry.....see I told you so, no one is buying from the marketplace. It is only about research. IT'S A FLOP...ETC. ETC.

    I am sure there are many who would like to see the website fail and have the smarts to keep it crashing.
    jgrif96229
  • Username bug

    They require _.@/- in the username. Try entering a username with a period in it.
    jsperson@...
  • No Issue Yet

    I logged in and have been fine from day one. I did notice some latency in the screen paint but nothing to bad. I think that both sides tend to exaggerate. Republicans said the day Obama was elected in 2008 that their first job was to make him a one term president. So they made it clear that their issue with Obama had nothing to do with his ability to do the job. And all this talk about a healthcare plan is, for the most part, the same concept that Mitt Romney introduced as Governor, hurting the middle class; The tax laws that have been in place since Bush have devastated the middle class yet republicans are looking to repeal it. Obama has actually spent less money during his time in office then any other President since Reagan. Reagan spent 14 trillion, Bush Sr Spent 5 trillion, Clinton spent 7 trillion, 15 trillion (the most of all) and Obama 1.4 million as of 2009. Republicans try to add the cost of Tarp to Obama's bill, but tarp is actually Bush's baby and it's was on his watch. So even if the new healthcare act adds the 6 trillion more over 10 years to the deficit that the GOP are claiming, Obama will have still spent less month since Reagan and still less than Bush did prior. At the end of the day, I don't really care if you are Republican, Democrate, or Independent. What I think gets missed on all the posturing, name calling, blame game, and rhetoric is that any politician that takes money from Corporations, Lobbyist, groups like the Koch Brother's Tea Party, and even unions and votes to satisfy those groups in fear of not getting re-elected should not be in office. People vote, not companies, groups, lobbyist, or corporations. People vote and put leaders in office to do what is best for the people. The fact that we have these same leaders posturing and claiming that they are following the will of the American people is most often a lie. We have got to get these clowns on both sides of the isle out of office.
    DocElam
  • California Hawaii etc not listed in States

    The one page guide https://www.healthcare.gov/get-covered-a-1-page-guide-to-the-health-insurance-marketplace/ says: No matter what state you live in, you can use the Marketplace.

    When you click Login https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/global/en_US/registration and then Create Account - California, Hawaii etc are not listed in the States list.

    This is since these states have their own exchanges. Create Account needs to be fixed - should show all States then it should tell users that California is not supported. Otherwise the one page guide is incorrect.
    seshr@...