[guest post by JD]
When the Health Insurance Marketplace opened last week, demand was so high, it exceeded even optimists’ expectations. On the first day alone, HealthCare.gov had nearly eight times more concurrent users than Medicare’s site (one of the federal government’s most highly trafficked) during open enrollment peak levels.
OUR VIEW: Inexcusable mess
Many of our neighbors have been waiting years for affordable health insurance. Some have waited their entire lives. After enrolling in coverage last week, Daniel McNaughton of Florida declared: “I found a health insurance plan better than I have ever had for a price I can afford. … The (new law) was worth the wait.” Andrew Stryker of California told The Washington Post he would have “waited all day” to sign up for coverage that will save him more than $6,000.
Of course, nobody wants Americans to have to wait to sign up. Engineers are working day and night to make upgrades. We’re adding more servers to enable the system to handle larger loads. And we’re upgrading our software as well to make the system more efficient and enable it to handle higher volumes.
This work is delivering results. Wait times on HealthCare.gov are now 50% shorter, and more people are enrolling in affordable coverage.
At the same time, we have been upgrading the capacity at our 24/7 call center (800-318-2596). And consumers are finding that their calls are being answered quickly.
To those who are interested in signing up, you have until Dec. 15 to enroll to get coverage the first day it takes effect on Jan. 1. If you are willing to wait a little longer for your benefits, you have until the end of March to sign up.
Virtually anyone who has tried to purchase insurance in the individual market will attest that it was complicated and time consuming. People were denied and priced out, and they had few if any real choices.
This is why the Marketplace matters. It is simple and user-friendly, and the coverage is affordable.
Jan. 1 will be a new day for millions of Americans who have waited a very long time to obtain affordable health insurance.
We will continue making upgrades and improvements to the consumer experience so more of our neighbors are able to realize this dream when the new coverage takes effect.
Kathleen Sebelius is secretary of Health and Human Services.