Federal officials have admitted for the first time that problems with Obamacare's online health insurance exchanges are more significant than the administration previously indicated.
The government is being forced to make changes to both the hardware and software of healthcare.gov, the online marketplace system, following a week in which many consumers were unable to enroll for coverage under the new healthcare law, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"We can do better and we are working around the clock to do so," Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Journal.
The Obama administration previously claimed that problems accessing the website, which serves 36 states, were simply due to an overload of Internet traffic because of high demand for insurance coverage.
But a number of different problems have crippled the healthcare website, according to information technology experts consulted by the Journal. For example, the system has had difficulties confirming the identities of people registering, which causes problems when signing up for an account. The site, they say, also appears to have been hastily put together with coding problems and an inadequate software foundation.
Though the government refuses to reveal the total number of people who have successfully signed up for coverage, the web traffic problems have likely reduced the number of enrollments to a tiny proportion of the estimated 9 million visitors to the site, according to the Journal.
Insurance industry advisers estimate the number of people who were able to shop for coverage is likely in the low thousands, while large insurers have seen enrollment figures totaling in the hundreds each, the Journal reports.
The website and enrollment problems don't "matter so much in October, but for the actual enrollment campaign, this needs to get fixed by November or they won't be able to process the volume they're going to get," Jon Kingsdale, a consultant for several state-run exchanges, told the Journal.
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