Screenshot of HealthCare.gov on October 1, 2013, the first day the health insurance exchanges went online
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - After being knocked offline Sunday and an error that was
causing problems for insurance applicants, the HeathCare.gov website
was working faster Monday than in the previous two weeks.
TODAY analysis indicated that visitors to the site sped through the
various sections with no problems. That's a change from previous visits
in October, which generated confusing blank pages in place of
eligibility results, messages recommending coming back on the weekend or
no sign of insurance plan prices or information.
director of communications for the Center for Medicare Services, said
government technicians and outside industry experts spent last week
making improvements. Newly added monitoring tools enabled them to
identify slowly responding pages and fix them, she said.
morning, they worked on a problem to make the initial account creation
process go more smoothly, she said. That followed two other major fixes
"We reconfigured various system components" to improve
performance, she said. That means people will be able to see insurance
plans in seconds, not minutes, Bataille said. That claim was supported
by the USA TODAY analysis Monday.
The changes follow last week's
appointment of Jeffrey Zients, the Obama administration's first chief
performance officer and the former acting director of the Office of
Management and Budget, to lead the team to fix the site.
the portal through which an estimated 7 million Americans are expected
to buy health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, has gone
through a rocky first month online since opening Oct. 1. Visitors to the
site had to waits hours for pages to open or found themselves shut out
completely. Congressional Republicans, who have opposed the law from its
inception, used the site's flaws to mount new criticisms of the law and
push hearings, while some Democrats have proposed extending the March
31 deadline to buy insurance.
Sunday brought another crisis for
the site. A problem with Terremark, a subsidiary of telecommunications
giant Verizon, knocked out access to HealthCare.gov that continued until
Monday afternoon, Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman
Joanne Peters said.
A failure in a networking component caused the
failure and has apparently affected other companies that use
Terremark's services, she said.
On Friday, Zients said the problems with the health insurance exchange would be fixed by Nov. 30.
and White House officials said everyone who wants to buy insurance
would have time to do so before the Dec. 15 deadline to receive coverage
by the first of the year, and well ahead of the March 31 deadline to
buy insurance to comply with the individual mandate.