Team O Has Elaborate Backup Plan For When Healthcare.gov Crashes

A year after the disastrous roll-out of healthcare.gov, there’s quite a bit of confidence in all the work they’ve done to fix it, so much that they have a major backup plan

(Washington Post) With the next time to buy health plans under the Affordable Care Act starting in less than a week, the Obama administration is expressing confidence that HealthCare.gov is no longer the rickety online insurance marketplace that exasperated consumers a year ago.

Behind the scenes, however, federal health officials and government contractors are scrambling, according to confidential documents and federal and outside experts familiar with this work. They have been making contingency plans in case the information technology or other aspects prove less sturdy than the administration predicts. And some preparations are coming down to the wire.

As the Nov. 15 beginning of open enrollment nears, administration officials have been eager to draw public attention to the fact that parts of the computer system have been rebuilt, online insurance applications will be easier to use and new federal managers are in charge.

“We’re really making sure that that Web site works super well,” President Obama said at a news conference a few days ago. “We’re double- and triple-checking it.”

Despite such efforts, the confidential documents written in recent weeks hint at elaborate backup planning that undercuts the administration’s predictions that an improved HealthCare.gov will be able to handle everyone who wants to sign up. More broadly, they reflect the high stakes confronting the administration as it tries to avoid last year’s mistakes and deal with new threats to the Affordable Care Act: the Republican gains in the midterm elections and the Supreme Court’s decision to review the government insurance subsidies that are a linchpin of the law.

One of the things that will occur, the article notes, is that the website will implement throttling if it gets too busy, like when more than 20 people use it, and will send users to other pages, rather than getting all the error pages from last year.

The part of the website for small businesses, never ready last year, is apparently still not quite ready. The hacker protections are also still too weak. Oh, and here’s your “most transparent administration ever!!!!!” moment

Some details about the readiness of the Web site are unavailable partly because CMS officials this year have insisted that every insurer involved in testing the site sign a confidentiality agreement requiring them to refrain from discussing the results.

Fortunately, consumer notices to the 7.6 million who supposedly still have Ocare and were supposed to be delivered by November 1 are way behind, with only 1 million ready to go by the third week of October. How would the IRS treat you if you were over two weeks late in filing?

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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