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What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working

By   /   October 9, 2013  /   News  /   7 Comments

Part 20 of 97 in the series Obamacare
NO, THE MARKETPLACE IS NOT OPEN: One week after its launch, the federal Obamacare site is still filled with glitches.

NO, THE MARKETPLACE IS NOT OPEN: One week after its launch, the federal Obamacare site is still filled with glitches.


By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

It’s been a full week since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, yet New Mexico Watchdog —  like millions of Americans and doubtless thousands in New Mexico— is still unable to create an account on  www.healthcare.gov.

Tuesday morning, for the third time since the rollout began Oct. 1, N.M. Watchdog failed to get beyond answering security questions on the website, much less learn details of what kind of health-care plans are offered and make price comparisons.

Click here and here to read stories about previous unsuccessful efforts from last week.

One percent of applications, according to some reports, have so far passed from www.healthcare.gov  to insurers because they contained enough accurate information to proceed with enrollment. Asked Sunday how many Americans have signed up, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew refused to disclose a number.

Over the weekend, the Obama administration said it was shutting down the site to fix the glitches that popped up across the country.

NM Watchdog saw no difference Tuesday. We got past the security questions but, once again, we were thwarted when this page popped up:

healthcare.gov security question problem

We clicked on the “Return to Create Account Page” and repeated the sign-in process, but to avail.

Obama administration officials have blamed the website’s problems on volume. About 2.8 million people visited the federal website on its first day, said Marilyn Tavenner, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The site is handling individual health care inquiries for 36 states, including New Mexico.

“It is extraordinary that these systems weren’t ready,” Sumit Nijhawan, CEO of Infogix, which handles data integrity issues for major insurers including WellPoint and Cigna — as well as multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates — told CNBC on Friday.

It’s hard to tell why www.healthcare.gov has so many problems.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw development of the site, hasn’t made technology experts available for interviews.

Five IT experts interviewed by Reuters surmised the problem probably has more to do with the site’s architecture than traffic alone.

“Adding capacity sounds great until you realize that if you didn’t design it right, that won’t help,” said Bill Curtis, chief scientist at CAST, a software quality analysis firm. “The architecture of the software may limit how much you can add on to it. I suspect they’ll have to reconfigure a lot of it.”

The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange handles accounts for small businesses looking to cover their employees; people looking for coverage — or simply looking to compare coverage plans — are sent to the www.healthcare.gov site.

NMHIX officials say their statewide website for small businesses is working smoothly. Interim NMIX CEO Mike Nunez told New Mexico Watchdog that, as of Tuesday morning, 524 small businesses and 1,074 employees of those businesses had signed up to buy insurance through the online marketplace.

“We’re moving along,” Nunez said. “We’ve had no problems with access and volume issues.”

But the glitches on the federal government’s website, which preempt people from signing up in New Mexico, is a major concern.

“Everyone across the country is frustrated that we can’t do the work we need to do,” said Nunez, who said his office is checking with the federal government every day, but “there’s no clear timeline” as to when the problems will be resolved.

While the feds will handle individual policies for the rest of this year and all of 2014, NMHIX consumer advocate Dr. Deane Waldman emphasized NMHIX will take over individual enrollment in 2015.

“I’m really fearful that even though (the computer glitches are) the feds’ problem, that we’ll get the blame,” Waldman told New Mexico Watchdog. “I am very hopeful and confident that a year from now — at least for New Mexicans — when (the NMIX runs things) that problem will no longer exist.”

Obama officials say the www.healthcare.gov  site has time to work out the problems, as individual policies don’t kick in until Jan. 1.

But the technical problems may frustrate and keep away potential customers — especially young people between the ages of 18 and 34, the so-called “Young Invincibles” so crucial to the health care exchanges becoming fiscally solvent.

“That’s correct,” Nunez said. “We don’t want to miss anyone.”

“We are, hopefully, by September or October of next year going to advertise the user friendliness (of the NMIX site for individual policies) to that particular demographic,” Waldman said. “We need to get college students, young people looking for jobs, who are 24, 26, 28 years old … At this point, all I can say is, ‘Sorry, but next year we’ll take care of you.’ ”

Contact Rob Nikolewski at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

Part of 97 in the series Obamacare
  1. Obamacare compliance means less money for TN service agencies
  2. The mystery of Obamacare spending in Arkansas
  3. Obamacare raises questions for MD small business owners
  4. Kansas official on Obamacare: ‘Let someone else be the guinea pig’
  5. Obamacare insurance marketplace has plenty of kinks on first day
  6. OR’s Obamacare insurance marketplace hits technological snag
  7. Fail: Day 1 of the New Mexico Obamacare rollout
  8. Senator asks: Do you want this dysfunctional government taking over health care?
  9. Jobs, coverage at risk with Obamacare, MN union health official says
  10. Oregon’s Obamacare ads resemble middle school art
  11. VIDEO: Obamacare vs Affordable Care Act: Comedy triumphs in court of confusion
  12. Patience is key to navigating Illinois’ Obamacare marketplace
  13. Hawaii residents, lawmakers frustrated with health connector glitches
  14. Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  15. NM’s health exchange tries to lure ‘young invincibles’
  16. Obama drama: Senator blames governor for big rate hikes
  17. Progressive group navigates Oregon students through Obamacare
  18. Maddening: Trying to log onto federal health care site
  19. You know that one guy who successfully signed up for Obamacare? He didn’t
  20. What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working
  21. HHS Secretary Sebelius back in FL after embarrassing Obamacare rollout
  22. Health centers enroll Floridians in Obamacare as application problems persist
  23. VIDEO: Stewart skewers Sebelius on Obamacare
  24. Obamacare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  25. Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future
  26. Which way do we go? Obamacare navigator registration in TN in question
  27. NM health exchange tries to ease problems with Obamacare website
  28. CPA says hype over Obamacare small business tax credit is misleading
  29. Obamacare navigator under fire for arrest warrant
  30. Reports of Obamacare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  31. After two weeks, FL online Obamacare enrollees are hard to find
  32. Illinois state governor touts 100K Obamacare enrollees, all in Medicaid
  33. Kansas lawmaker calls for crackdown on Obamacare navigators
  34. WI health care exchange seeing few getting through
  35. Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange relaunches with more glitches
  36. We’ll know next month how many people in NM signed up for Obamacare — maybe
  37. Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up
  38. It took this Delaware woman 11 days to sign up for Obamacare – and she was the first
  39. How many people have signed up for health insurance in VA? Who knows?
  40. What else? NM federal health exchange ads stalled due to website problems
  41. Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with Obamacare glitches
  42. If Obamacare is the next Medicare, will physicians leave en masse?
  43. Three problems that won’t be solved by fixing the Obamacare exchange glitches
  44. Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online
  45. Criticize this: Obamacare premiums a near match to WI disclosures
  46. Report: Missourians will see sharp rise in premiums under Obamacare
  47. Kansas navigators say they’ve enrolled no one in Obamacare
  48. Obamacare too costly for rich Coloradans, Democrat congressman says
  49. Study: Kansas premiums to spike following Obamacare rollout
  50. Hang on to your candy: Creepy Uncle Sam is back
  51. Obamacare or bust: NM Watchdog turned back again
  52. Medical journals, experts refute claim that Medicaid cuts ER use
  53. Arkansas spends $4M on Obamacare ads, wants more
  54. LOL: In July video, HHS bragged about being ‘on schedule’ with Obamacare
  55. Illinois uses Day of the Dead to market Obamacare
  56. Sebelius denies GOP’s Terry ‘unreliable’ Obamacare info
  57. About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans
  58. Broken promise: Obamacare cancels almost 20,000 Kansas health care plans
  59. Top hospitals opt out of Obamacare
  60. Obamacare moves to intensive care
  61. Obamacare provision could lead to more Medicaid fraud
  62. Obamacare: Religious groups want to ‘move mountains’
  63. Obamacare hitting Wisconsin residents with double whammy
  64. Kansas AG: Obamacare threatens consumer privacy
  65. 1,500 in New Mexico have to move out of the high-risk insurance pool
  66. Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions
  67. For Florida’s Obamacare small business exchange, it’s crunch time
  68. Only 877 Wisconsinites have signed up for Obamacare, federal report says
  69. Just 172 in NM have completed Obamacare applications: ‘Woefully inadequate,’ says NMIX board member
  70. With only 346 Oklahomans signed up, leaders decry ‘Obamacare debacle’
  71. Defying Obamacare: ‘Send them the bill,’ NM insurance official says
  72. Kansas Obamacare enrollment dwarfed by nearly 20,000 cancellations
  73. Numbers don’t lie: In Illinois, Obamacare means Medicaid
  74. Wisconsin governor proposes insurance plan to address Obamacare rollout failure
  75. Tennesseans might know Tuesday if they can keep canceled health insurance
  76. People demand answers over Oregon’s Obamacare fail
  77. Calif. says ‘no’ to Obamacare freebies, makes own law
  78. HI health exchange violates federal law, League of Women Voters say
  79. Obamacare video winner: ‘Forget about the price tag’
  80. Harvard study finds ‘striking’ rejection of Obamacare by young Americans
  81. HI health exchange has signed up 574 people, for about $348,000 apiece
  82. Are the uninsured getting Obamacare coverage in Illinois?
  83. Secret Obamacare handbook the feds don’t want you to see is online
  84. Lost in translation: Once-supportive Hispanics turning backs on Obama, ACA
  85. HI Obamacare exchange not fiscally sustainable, lawmakers told
  86. Illinois’ latest Obamacare targets: gold diggers and momma’s boys
  87. Now Democrats are bashing California’s Obamacare exchange, too
  88. Obamacare: For $1.37M we get Richard Simmons in lurid web stream
  89. Obamacare: A welcome mat for IRS horrors
  90. California senator seeks audit of state Obamacare exchange
  91. Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups
  92. CA senator sues Obamacare exchange for causing policy cancellations of 1M
  93. Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota
  94. Video: Watch Creepy Uncle Sam make it rain
  95. Five bright spots surrounding the Obamacare exchange failures
  96. Obamacare architect admitted in 2012 states without exchanges lose subsidies
  97. Architects of Richard Simmons Obamacare dance-off rehired in $156M PR campaign


Rob formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • WiSe GuY

    Proof: you can’t polish a turd!

  • Tim

    I really don’t understand why the .gov site is up at all during the government shutdown. It’s certainly as non critical as all the other sites they shut down (particularly because it coverage doesn’t start until next year and it doesn’t work in the first place)

  • tvonthebrain

    My own 0.02 worth of experience here:

    Last Tuesday, there was an issue (for me) getting past security questions. Dropdowns just weren’t populating with anything (ie: they were blank), so, one couldn’t actually choose a question.

    Last Wednesday, I finally got pat that hurdle (yay to developers working on things), and managed to get registered… OR DID I?

    Step 1: Receive welcome email.. CHECK
    Step 2: Log in… nope, credentials not valid
    Step 3: Re-send password link to email. Hey, I might have mistyped
    Step 4: Click on password link… user information not found… Uh, WHAT?

    Going back and trying to re-register. Yup, my username is there (can’t re-register that username). maybe a glitch somehow, right? Re-try.. Nope, same thing. New user, same problems

    They can try to blame this on ‘traffic’ all they want, but as a professional developer for the past 12 years (and hobbyist coder for going on 30 now ;)), I can safely say this ISN’T ‘traffic’ related. This is, without a doubt, 100% DEVELOPER related.

    Mr. Obama, this is EXACTLY what you get when you send jobs like this overseas, to the cheapest bidder. ZERO doubt, that’s exactly what happened here.

  • smelltest
  • dor

    And this is just the website!! Wait till the real thing is ready to go. then you will see what a real mess that ‘community organizer’ has made of our healthcare.

  • JP

    Well Rob, Florida seems to have the same problem. I just tried to register multiple times and can’t get past the security page. The live Chat person told me there is no time line on when this “Glitch” in the system will be fixed. I just wonder how many Floridians and other states are having this particular problem since Oct. 1st

  • urthekochsfool

    I live in Texas and finally managed to create an account only to have the error “identity cannot be verified”. What? I’ve lived in the same house for years, tax returns have that address. I called cust ser., had to call Experian to confirm my identiy. Why do i have to call a third party private company to verify my US identity? All in vain. Experian stated that since I didn’t have a reference # I would have to call ACA cust service. I’m going to have to mail or scan / email documents. Just tried to log in today and it’s stating account is invalid.