Washington (AFP) – The troubleshooter appointed by President Barack Obama to overhaul a bungled health care website rollout said Sunday that improvements had made a “night and day” difference in handling online traffic.
The White House has admitted previously that the launch of Healthcare.gov, where people can sign up for health insurance, was a debacle and the Obama administration pledged that the vast majority of potential customers would be able to enroll online by the end of November.
Jeffrey Zients, an Obama advisor recently given the job of finding fixes to end the website woes and get the president’s signature policy achievement back on track, said technical problems were being overcome.
“The site now has the capacity to handle 50,000 concurrent or simultaneous users at one time … so the site will support more than 800,000 consumer visits a day,” he said during a conference call with reporters.
“We’ve doubled the system’s capacity and Healthcare.gov can now support its intended volume,” he added.
Additionally, the website is up and running successfully more than 90 percent of the time — up from an estimated 42.9 percent through most of October, when people routinely experienced delays or could not gain online access at all.
“The bottom line: Healthcare.gov on December 1 is night-and-day from where it was on October 1,” Zients said, citing improvements that include a technical support center monitoring the website 24 hours a day.
Some 400 bugs that were harming the website’s operation have been eliminated, he said, though he did not provide data on how many people were signing up for insurance.
“We developed a prioritized punch-list of software fixes, hardware upgrades and user enhancements with the prioritization based on what has the biggest impact on system stability, capacity, speed and user experience,” Zients added.
Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said during the call with reporters that 80 percent of users are now able to apply for health insurance successfully on the site.