Healthcare.gov Site Plagued With Problems
The Affordable Care Act, which includes provisions to make health care more affordable and accessible to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured or under-insured due to prohibitive costs associated with insurance premiums or denial based on pre-existing conditions, has demonstrated lackluster numbers in terms of enrollment, according to recent data released by administration officials. Many believe that lower than expected enrollment may be attributed to the program’s faulty website, www.healthcare.gov, which users have reported having trouble with since enrollment opened on October 1st.
Enrollment Falls Very Short of Projected Numbers
As of late, it seems that as few as 50,000 users were able to complete enrollment on the website designed to help new users register for private health insurance. This is an especially low number, considering the administration’s projected goal of 500,000 in the month of October alone. Most people familiar with the site and the plans it offers believe that low enrollment is being caused largely by the fact that the site is riddled with design and general technical problems.
Problems Leave Users Flustered
The problems with the healthcare.gov site range from preventing users from completing registration to making it impossible to create the user account necessary to choose and enroll in a program. Many of the users who report successful enrollment have noted that they were able to enroll only after several failed attempts to do so. User frustration has reportedly been compounded by the fact that the site’s user support function was often not in order, or that customer support questions often took a very long time to answer. When properly functioning, the site was designed to help users register for plans in about thirty minutes, but the flawed site often caused users to spend several hours attempting to complete registration.
Elderly and Other Patients With Special Needs Among Users Unable to Complete Enrollment
One major issue related to problems with the Affordable Care Act’s site is that confusion caused by the malfunctioning site often most impacted elderly patients or those with special needs. Many of the individuals hoping to gain coverage or more adequate coverage by the ACA are senior citizens or patients who had previously been denied coverage because of a previous condition. These individuals often have less experience with both technology and health care enrollment at large, and may have been the first to abandon attempts at enrollment upon coming across glitches in the enrollment process. The large number of users experiencing problems also caused high traffic within the system’s phone support, making that line of communication a less than ideal choice for users in need of help.
Low Enrollment Poses Problems for Policy Providers
Many of the plans provided for by the ACA offer discounted prices to users because of government subsidies as well as lower rates from insurance carriers. Most carriers have been able to offer lower rates because of the projected influx of new patients enrolling in their programs. If enrollment remains as low as it has been over the course of the next few months, it is unclear whether it will be viable for insurance carriers to continue to offer policies at lower prices.
It is possible that enrollment figures may become much less bleak as the March 1st deadline for open enrollment grows closer. Historically, registration for most programs shows a huge spike in the time leading up to a deadline, and that was the case in Massachusetts, where a pioneering universal health care program was rolled out under then governor Mitt Romney in 2007. Ideally, glitches in the system will continue to be fixed as patients continue to enroll.