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HIX, A Disaster Foretold, Needs Time

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, October 15, 2013

It would be easy to focus on the price of the federal government's health insurance marketplace and expect it to work better than some Web startup launched by a couple of heavily-caffeinated kids. But it wouldn't be fair.


health insurance exchanges


>>>Healthcare.gov system complexity
Source: Xerox

No one ever said information technology was foolproof. Even the most advanced systems today have their glitches. Now we can add healthcare.gov to the list.

Last week, at the CHIME conference, my informal poll of healthcare CIOs found broad agreement that it's no surprise the federal health insurance exchange Web site, healthcare.gov, has been overwhelmed by the number of unexpected visitors and other basic flaws.

Here's one example of how bad it is: A New York Times researcher successfully registered, but despite "more than 40 attempts over the next 11 days," was reportedly unable to log into healthcare.gov.

"I know the government spends a lot of money on their contractors and Web sites, and I also know that it's very difficult for them to make changes because of the process the government may go through," said Pam McNutt, senior vice president and CIO of Methodist Health System in Dallas, TX.

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3 comments on "HIX, A Disaster Foretold, Needs Time"


Frank Poggio (10/16/2013 at 7:41 PM)
Re: "don't expect them, or healthcare systems, or even Silicon Valley, to fix the health insurance exchange rollout, and neither should anyone else." Wow..so magnanimous! So if we should give them more time why won't DHSS give providers/vendors more time for Stage 2? And I still ask- why didn't DHSS put it's contractor HIX vendors thru the ONC Certification test process as they require of provider vendor systems. From my experience in guiding over forty vendor systems thru the ONC process there is no way any of the HIX systems would have passed. Drop down lists that don't work, repeated system outages, would have killed them in the first pass.

Tyco Brahe (10/16/2013 at 10:08 AM)
This moment-by-moment reporting is so useless. They will fix the portal and we will move forward. In a few years, we will look back at all this "disaster" talk and roll our eyes. When Medicare Part D was rolled out, it was a "disaster" of similar proportions, with seniors completely confused about the choices. Now, NO ONE even talks about it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. All the "disaster" talk is premature.

Jim Brunnemer (10/15/2013 at 4:53 PM)
It certainly looks like it will take time to get healthcare.gov fixed. I'd just note your comment on the timing to avoid the individual penalty is not the end of December......I believe they have said an individual would have to be signed up by mid-February to avoid the penalty as they need to have coverage in place effective before the end of March 2014 (so that really means 3/1/2014).