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Healthcare.gov: ‘System is down at the moment’

Herb Boyd | 10/31/2013, 4:27 p.m.

Now that the Obama administration has officially apologized for its troubled website and the system is now working, albeit at a snail’s pace, a reporter thought he’d give it a try, but as a small businessman from the state of Michigan.

Rather than select New York, which is his home state and where the insurance exchange is available, he chose his former residence in Michigan, where you have to apply at Healthcare.gov.

After several failed attempts earlier in the day, he tried later in the evening and received the same previous prompt: “The system is down at the moment. We are experiencing technical difficulties and hope to have them resolved soon. Please try again later. In a hurry? You might be able to apply faster at our Marketplace call center: Call 1-800-318-2596 to talk with one of our trained representatives about applying over the phone.”

Well, the reporter wasn’t exactly in a hurry, but he tried to apply by telephone to see what would happen.

First of all, the voice is a robot, and after a series of questions as to what kind of small business insurance was sought, the caller was referred back to Healthcare.gov, which means you are caught in a circle of frustration.

If this is a typical encounter for people seeking to meet the mandate, then the Healthcare.gov system is in need of major surgery, no pun intended.

Fortunately, the options available in New York are less troublesome, but an individual seeking insurance, a potential patient, will have to be very patient in filling out the identification process, the household questions and facing a battery of other issues before reaching the stage of actually finding out what insurance you qualify for, and if you are eligible for subsidies.

Enrolling on Healthcare.gov is almost as unbearable as watching the first congressional testimony the other day and listening to government officials explain to members of the House Committee on Ways and Means why things aren’t going as smoothly as planned.

After the apologies, officials from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the system would be fully operating by the end of November.



It was troubling to hear some of the experts declare that some people with individual health coverage—rather than group coverage like most Americans—may be forced to get new policies in accordance with Obamacare requirements, which is the opposite of what the president said months ago, that if you were already covered, “you can keep your plan.”

This problem at the hearings only prompted more contention, and things quickly devolved into partisan bickering, providing very little understanding for the ordinary American trying to figure out which way to turn for insurance.

Of course, the snafu has provided a field day of accusations and finger-pointing from the GOP opponents, many of whom predict that things will get worse before they get better, which is just the way they would like it.

If it’s true that the Obama administration was aware of the problems long before the system was officially launched, then they had ample opportunity to fine-tune it before activation. But, much like they did in the NSA boondoggle, Obama’s aides and functionaries are claiming ignorance, which is hardly sufficient from a man we trusted to lead us out of the Bush and into the light.