The 2014 Healthcare.gov open enrollment period has ended, but technical issues plagued the site right up until the last day of enrollment. The next enrollment period is scheduled to begin on Nov. 15, 2014. It is yet to be seen whether the Healthcare.gov website will still have the same issues that made the site difficult to navigate during its two initial open enrollment periods.
As soon as the Healthcare.gov website launched on Oct. 1, 2013, users began reporting technical problems. Some people were unable to create a user identification. Others were able to create the user ID but were not able to successfully complete the online application. Although some users were able to navigate the site and complete the healthcare exchange application, other users found themselves unable to even log in.
These technical issues were not unexpected. The Healthcare.gov website failed a trial run just a few days before it rolled out to the public on Oct. 1. However, the fact that the website continued to have issues through both the initial open enrollment period that ran from Oct. 1 to Dec. 23, 2013, and the second open enrollment period that ended on March 31, 2014, came as a surprise to many users.
On March 31, 2014, the last day that users could apply for 2014 healthcare through the Affordable Care Act exchange program, Healthcare.gov experienced technical difficulties that put it out of service for nearly four hours. During the last days of the enrollment period, the website was regularly receiving 1.5 to 2 million hits each day as Americans attempted to navigate the site and apply for healthcare. The technical difficulties on the last day of the enrollment period only served to add to the frustration surrounding the Healthcare.gov website.
Although the official open enrollment is over, there are still ways to apply for healthcare through Healthcare.gov. Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are open year-round, and members of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native shareholders are eligible to apply for healthcare throughout the year. Likewise, people who qualify for a Special Enrollment Period have the opportunity to apply for healthcare.
This means that the Healthcare.gov website does not have a free pass until November to fix its website issues; instead, the site needs to solve its technical problems as quickly as possible. Users are still navigating the site even during this period between open enrollments, and once the next open enrollment period begins, the site is likely to receive hundreds of thousands to millions of hits every day.
The Healthcare.gov website had technical problems throughout its entire 2014 open enrollment period. On Nov. 15, 2014, the 2015 open enrollment period begins. The site may fix its issues by then, but only time will tell if Healthcare.gov works out all of its technical difficulties.
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