- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2013
One week from a key deadline, health officials said Monday the federal Obamacare website is working consistently but they are still working to smooth out bugs and make sure enrollee data are reported accurately.

“As we’ve said, our work to improve HealthCare.gov will be ongoing,” said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

HealthCare.gov, the federal portal that serves 36 states, received 500,000 site visits over the weekend and more than 165,000 between midnight and noon on Monday, she added.

Ms. Bataille said officials enhanced the site’s “window-shopping” feature so that it more clearly states how much money low and middle-income Americans will save when they purchase a health plan with the help of a government subsidy on the exchange. It will also tell users whether they qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Obama administration was criticized shortly after the health exchanges’ debut on Oct. 1 for requiring users to register on the website before they could comparison-shop and evaluate their subsidies. 

Analysts said the lack of window-shopping led to bottlenecks on the front end of the system.

The next two weeks will offer a key test for the revamped website, as Americans who lost health coverage that did not meet Obamacare’s requirements attempt to sign up on the health exchanges by Dec. 23, the deadline to be ensured coverage by Jan. 1.

The administration has leaned on private insurers to offer coverage even if people sign up after that date to reduce the number of people who experience coverage gaps when the new year hits.

It is also under pressure to release more details about the type of people who are signing up for health coverage through the federal marketplace and 15 state-run exchanges.

Ms. Bataille said CMS is “very mindful” of the fact there needs to be “an appropriate mix” of young, healthy consumers and older, sicker enrollees to balance out risk pools in both federal and state exchanges.

She said she could not provide any rough figures or estimates, because the agency is trying to gather accurate information on enrollees’ ages and other demographics and will release it some time in the future.


SPECIAL COVERAGE: Health Care Reform