The new Healthcare.gov is getting mixed reviews after its first major test. Many people who tried the revamped health insurance website say it is working better, while others say they're still having trouble.
Starting Tuesday, President Barack Obama opens a new effort to highlight the positive side of the Affordable Care Act.
The president Tuesday will try to begin the process of digging out from the rubble of the Obamacare rollout. In a speech at the White House, the president will tout the benefits already provided under the Affordable Care Act, and the risks he sees in trying to repeal that law. Democrats running for re-election next year remain panicky. This is the president's first concerted effort to calm them down.
The White House is changing its tone, highlighting the achievements of Obamacare and the progress that has been made since the botched launch of Healthcare.gov website just two months ago.
But the challenges aren't over and now there's a new word for the Obamacare dictionary -- queue -- that's the line frustrated consumers are sent to when the health care website cannot handle a surge in traffic.
If the site is clogged, users can enter their emails and receive a message back when the site is ready to process their application. The White House calls this a significant improvement. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "The queuing system, the more sophisticated, improved queuing system is a feature designed to improve the user experience."
The administration says 750,000
users came to Healthcare.gov on Monday and the system did not crash, but the White House declined
to say how many of those users enrolled, how many simply shopped, and how many
were shuttled into the come-back-later queue.
At a Miami health clinic, 56-year-old June Miles-Mays tried for a third time to purchase insurance through the website. She hasn't had insurance for five years due to diabetes and other pre-existing conditions -- precisely the kind of consumer Obamacare is supposed to help. The website kept telling her to wait. She said, "I'm hoping everything goes well and goes through for me because I really do need health coverage."
Eventually, Miles-Mays filled out a paper application. The administration expects an even bigger traffic surge in two weeks when consumers will probably rush to acquire insurance coverage by January 1. To qualify, applicants must enroll by December 23. Carney said, "I would certainly agree that that is an important period -- that all these days in December are important, and every day from now until March 31st is important."
The White House says it's fixed a glitch in the website that prevented Social Security numbers from reaching insurance companies. That defect accounted for 80 percent of the bad data that was going from insurance companies from potential enrollees. Troubleshooters are still working on the 20 percent of bad data that remains.