Will Healthcare.gov work when open enrollment begins on Saturday? That's the question on the minds of Americans who will be logging on to buy health insurance on the government's website.
"We're very confident we're going to be in good shape beginning Saturday," said Kevin Counihan, the man charged with running the federal government's insurance marketplaces.
In an interview with CBS News National Correspondent Wyatt Andrews, Counihan was confident about the website's functionality, saying, "This is not last year. This is not last year."
Last year's rollout was fraught with technical problems, with repeated crashes that effectively shut down the site for most of the first month of the launch. Healthcare.gov frustrated consumers and became a national joke on late-night television. The disastrous rollout ultimately cost Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius her job and at least $175 million to fix.
Jeff Zients, now the director of the National Economic Council, was called in to manage the repair of the website, and his work to that end was considered to be a success.
Now, as year two is about to begin, Counihan says extensive end-to-end testing has been performed to ensure the process goes smoothly. Last year, contractors failed to complete stress tests before the launch of the site. Today, Counihan says "we've kicked the tires on this system both internally and externally to see that it works and that it's stable."
He also promised a more streamlined sign-up, so it will take less time to get through the online process, from welcome screen through enrollment. "There are 16 screen shots to go through the application...compared to 76 from a year ago," Counihan said.
Customers will also be able to choose from more insurance companies--25 percent more. This, he says, will create more competition and better pricing.
Counihan ensured better information about whether consumers' physicians are in the networks offered. Information about the tax credit available will be easier to figure out. The website team has, he said, "taken an extremely aggressive and diligent view to protect the website, protect the personal information that's on this site, and that's been validated through the re-testing."
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