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United States Government Medicine The Almighty Buck

Officials Say HealthCare.gov Site Now Performing Well 644

The much-discussed health care finance sign-up website HealthCare.gov has benefited from the flurry of improvements that have been thrown at it in the last several weeks. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokesman Aaron Albright told Fox News Saturday that "[w]ith the scheduled upgrades last night and tonight, we're on track to meet our stated goal for the site to work for the vast majority of users." CMM spokeswoman Julie Bataille. "said the installation of new servers Friday night helped improved the response times and error rates, even with heavier-than-usual weekend traffic." If you've used the site this weekend, what has your experience been like?
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Officials Say HealthCare.gov Site Now Performing Well

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 30, 2013 @08:31PM (#45564169)

    To test it, they want you to put in all kinds of personal information. No thanks.

  • Here's What I Know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 30, 2013 @08:49PM (#45564309)

    I'm unemployed and without insurance. If I go to the dentist's office to get a small no-anesthesia filling, as I did last week, they will accept $116 from an insurance company but will charge me $167 for exactly the same procedure because I'm a cash payer. When an insurance company pays them, they deduct the difference between $167 and $116 as a "loss" to reduce their taxes. Obviously, they've got quite an incentive to do that.

    It's not just dentist's offices. Those are the shenanigans going on with tens of thousands of health care providers across the US, it's to the tune of tens of billions of dollars of "losses" pulled out of thin air, and it has to fixed before any of this is going to improve. Subsidizing private insurance companies with taxpayer money and mandating that people sign up with them while allowing insurance companies to keep skimming profits out of the system and penalizing cash-payers is the wrong thing to do.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 30, 2013 @08:55PM (#45564353)
      They really need to just ban health insurance completely. It is the only thing that will fix things at this point.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 6ULDV8 ( 226100 )

      I saw the same issue when I turned 50. The cash price for a colonoscopy was between 3 & 4k (didn't get an exact figure), but they settled for $1000 from my insurance company.

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @11:30PM (#45565327) Journal
      You think that's bad? Here's my experience: hospital bill: $22k. The negotiated rate that the hospital received was $1.9k for full payment from the insurance company. That's less than 9% of the original bill. Not 90%: 9%.
    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @12:09AM (#45565553)

      Go to a different dentists. There are plenty of them out there now that DONT accept insurance. The cost of doing business with insurance companies is too high. My wife works in the field, and for every dentist, there are 2 to 3 assistants, 1 or 2 hygienists and then 3 to 4 people to deal with billing and the insurance. Stop accepting insurance and now they only need 1 person for billing. Suddenly procedures are cheaper. As long as you're not getting a crown, they can be significantly cheaper (crowns are mostly made out of the office at a lab)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 30, 2013 @08:50PM (#45564325)

    BOSS: Our mandate is to make this site work for the vast majority of users in two weeks. Otherwise we don't get a bonus. And by "we" I mean "I".
    ENGINEER ERNIE: But there are millions of users! Right now the site can only handle 200 simultaneous users, and we just don't have the hardware for more. If we work our asses off and spend a bunch of money on servers, we might be able to get it up to ten thousand. That's nowhere near the vast majority.
    BOSS: Damn it, I promised my son I'd buy him a Cessna for his birthday. I need that bonus! You guys had better think of something quickly.
    ENGINEER DAVE: I think I have an idea...
    BOSS: Spit it out, man!
    ENGINEER DAVE: ... well, I just thought you could hire a few competent engineers for a change. That might get the job done.
    BOSS: Look, I tried that. It was nixed by the big shots -- they don't want to develop a reputation for competence, okay? You've gotta figure something out that works with our current human capital.
    ENGINEER ERNIE: Uh, I have an idea. Say again what the mandate was?
    BOSS: We have to make the site work for the vast majority of users in two weeks.
    ENGINEER ERNIE: That's what I thought. So if we just drive away all the users right now, then we will have no users in two weeks, right?
    BOSS: Yeah... how does that help?
    ENGINEER ERNIE: Well, what's the vast majority of zero?


    ENGINEER DAVE: But... but...
    BOSS: Shut up and start sabotaging the code, or you're fired.
    ENGINEERS: Yes, sir!

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @08:56PM (#45564365) Journal
    Zippy and responsive. Each page was uncluttered, and what little info I had to give to "see plans in my area" was reasonable. I got back a dozen quotes in under a minute just clicking through things.

    Now, the actual registration process is probably more complex, but if the rest of the website responds as beautifully as it did for me during those dozen screens I saw, then they really did a good job fixing it.
  • ...have said a lot of things about the ACA and Healthcare.gov, the vast majority of which turned out to be false. I would not expect anything different now.
  • C:\>ping www.healthcare.gov

    Pinging bh.georedirector.akadns.net [] with 32 bytes of data:

    • by gmueckl ( 950314 )

      Same here, strangely enough. Looks like a measure to avoid load caused by foreigners that got curious from all the bad reporting that this website got.

    • It resolves to e8132.dscb.akamaiedge.net ( in the U.S. if you care to take a gander. Not to say it won't reject you when you get there via IP too.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @09:12PM (#45564467) Journal
    It was already doing better. Since I knew I would not qualify for subsidy and already had employer provided insurance it was just a dry run. But still it worked mostly. Quite a few quibbles. Help opened a new tab and I did not realize I was on a different tab and spent a while looking for way out of the maze of helps and explanations. A few clickable links did not change the mouse pointer. But I was able to go all the way and compare the plans and prices and see that my employer is giving us gold coverage, and the cost was comparable. I was actually surprised by the "low" prices. Was expecting a sticker shock because "must take all comers", "no lifetime cap", "mental health coverage" etc. But not bad. Plans went from 600$ a month to 900$ a month for gold. So it was not bad even when there was this huge media frenzy.

    Basically all accounts created in the first week ten days must be abandoned and fresh account created. If you try to continue with the old account, it would retrieve an old incomplete corrupt data file and you are screwed. But start a new account, new email id, and it would be a breeze for most people. If you want to check your subsidy etc I heard there were trouble. Also heard that most troubled were older people unfamiliar with internet and web pages and were intimidated by all the new fangled terms and legalese.

    Two days back got an email saying, "why don't you try again?". I logged in opened a chat window and asked "williams" to cancel that account. He said dont bother it will time out and die by itself.

    • Did you actually apply for enrollment, or were you just looking at the Kaiser estimates? In other words did you actually give them you income data, age, zip, SS number, and wait for the status email containing the pdf notifying you of your acceptance or rejection? Because only then are you allowed to actually look at plans, and only if you were accepted.
      • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @10:19PM (#45564901) Journal
        No. By that time, they have removed the restriction and allowed me to browse the plans, save the plans and compare the plans. Only thing was the prices shown were the "full retail" price and there was a nagging side bar that kept saying "your actual cost could be lower please complete this form", "click here" "please please please click here".

        The reason for the whole fiasco was they decided not to show the full retail price till people actually complete the eligibility because the politicians thought the sticker shock would be too much. That last minute change to hide the price till the income verification was done was the root cause of all problems. The income verification involves social security number, getting info from the hub etc etc. They could have rolled in income check and eligibility check even before the plan pricing was finalized. But that is all monday morning quarterbacking.

        One of the first thing they did was to just open it all up for comparison shopping to reduce the load of window shoppers. Even now I am not sure how well the subsidy eligibility portion of the site is working. But for straight up comparison of plans and pricing, you could do it anytime. This alone is going to change the landscape of medical plans for everyone. Many small companies, people with "trustable" friend/broker etc were all buying health insurance blind. Pricing was very opaque and plans were not comparable at all. Right now so many people are figuring how trustable their friendly neighborhood broker had been.

        Subsidy is nearly 100% at 32K income for a family of 4, sliding down to zero at 96K for a family of four. The median family income in USA is around 50K and around 75% of the people make less than 100K. Very few people with more than 100K were without health coverage prior to ACA/Obamacare. So vast majority of the 40 million Americans without healthcare would be eligible for subsidy. It is not going to be easy for the Republicans to roll back this program. No matter how bad the web site is, it would be impossible to go back to the bad old days of preexisting condition, "we will collect premium and cancel your policy if you get sick" health insurance company days.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @09:28PM (#45564555) Homepage

    Watching the home page load [healthcare.gov], this shows up:
    [17:06:07.510] GET https://stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js [doubleclick.net] [HTTP/1.1 304 Not Modified 40ms]
    [17:06:06.192] GET https://cdn.optimizely.com/js/166688199.js [optimizely.com] [HTTP/1.1 304 Not Modified 40ms]


  • by thepainguy ( 1436453 ) <thepainguy@gmail.com> on Saturday November 30, 2013 @09:30PM (#45564573) Homepage
    So I'm in the process of trying to sign up for healthcare.gov. I'm already having problems, because it won't accept my e-mail address as my username, even though it would appear to fit the criteria.

    "The username is case sensitive. Choose a username that is 6-74 characters long and must contain a lowercase or capital letter, a number, or one of these symbols _.@/-"

    If they are having problems explaining the most basic things, I'm not hopeful.

    The site is also less secure for me because none of my standard, extremely secure, never before had a problem with them passwords will work for it. That will force me to write it down, making the site inherently less secure.

    5 Minutes later...

    LOL. What an absolute piece of garbage of a web site. I tried to change my username to just the username of my email address and the site says it's invalid. It should be valid based on the instructions, but no joy. If they actually want the username to contain a number, then that's a joke; it's something I've never seen before on ANY website EVER.


    When sites come up with new, unusual standards for usernames and passwords (e.g. must contain a %, *, or ^), then they are making the site less secure because they are increasing the odds that people will have to write down their usernames and passwords.
    • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @09:42PM (#45564681)

      it won't accept my e-mail address as my username, even though it would appear to fit the criteria.

      "The username is case sensitive. Choose a username that is 6-74 characters long and must contain a lowercase or capital letter, a number, or one of these symbols _.@/-"

      If they are having problems explaining the most basic things, I'm not hopeful.

      It looks like the period is the invalid character. Interestingly, having a period in the username gives a different error message than the one used for any other invalid character. I'm guessing they're scanning the string in two separate places, and forgot to remove the one that doesn't like periods.

      When sites come up with new, unusual standards for usernames and passwords (e.g. must contain a %, *, or ^), then they are making the site less secure because they are increasing the odds that people will have to write down their usernames and passwords.

      What are you talking about? The site doesn't require you to use special characters in your password. It just says 8-20 characters, containing one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one number. That's pretty standard.

      • The password requirements state...

        "It can't contain your username or any of these characters = ? ( ) ‘ " / \ &"

        It just so happens that I use one of those characters in my standard secure password. I've never had a problem with that character before except for one site (which ironically is my bank, and which forces me to use a password that is less secure than my standard password due to its banning special characters.

        Seriously, all of these different password standards are a huge cause of se
        • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

          That's very different from "must contain a %, *, or ^", which is what you said in your first post. Lots of sites have similar requirements.

          Why do you have a "standard secure password"? That's an oxymoron. If you're really concerned about security, you shouldn't be using the same password on multiple sites. Just get a password safe.

          • Sites that rule standards characters in or out are driving down security because all of the standards vary. Maybe that is by design, to prevent standard passwords, but the end result for 99% of the population isn't something that is more secure.

            In terms of standard passwords, I'd like to introduce you to the ordinary person who can't handle a different password for every site. I can't for sites that I don't regularly visit, like healthcare.gov.
        • It just so happens that I use one of those characters in my standard secure password.

          Why are you using the same password (or even very similar passwords) on multiple sites, especially for sites that involve sensitive personal healthcare and financial data? Are you aware that this very practice is the source of greatly increased rates of personal information compromise and identity theft, as compromising one set of credentials makes it much easier to access other systems? Further, are you aware that you're rolling the dice every time you create an account anywhere when it comes to whether th

          • Because I am a normal human being, not a programmer, and I can only remember so many username and password combinations.

            P.S. I am trying to distribute insight into how ordinary people think and work. Based on comments like yours, that is something that seems to be sorely needed.
            • Based on comments like yours, you're not not a normal human being. You are a lazy human being. Normal people might ask "gee, how might I solve this problem?" Instead, you're adopting the "oh no, it's too hard" attitude.

              I've been working with normal people who manage to memorize multiple passwords for fifteen years. They aren't programmers, either, although some people are naturally better at this than others. For those who have a lot of passwords to manage, there are a wealth of options available, including

        • So you ignored what the website told you, decided to use a password that meets your idea of what a secure password should be and you are shouting in all caps about how bad the site was. Then you admit there are vaunted private sector banks which use worse password rules. Is it possible you were a little biased?
      • I've NEVER seen a site require a number in the username. How 1997 is that?
  • If one plugs the First Family's income and ages [staticflickr.com] into the web-based DC Health Link Calculator [dchealthlink.com], the annual health care cost estimates for the Obama household come out to be $20,125 (Bronze), $19,537 (Silver), and $21,902 (Gold) [staticflickr.com], not a good deal at all when compared to the starting-at-under-$200-a-month family health coverage [opm.gov] available to the President and Congress through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [opm.gov]. By the way, if the Obama family members were 10 years older and their combined household inc

    • You know how we could have avoided all this mess?
      Single-payer health care.

      Instead we're implementing a Plan B that Republicans have been actively working against at both the State and Federal levels.

    • Fudging the numbers a little? The opm site rates in DC for basic self is 200$ biweekly. For high family coverage it is 450$ from employee, another 450$ from the employer. Per pay period. There are 24 pay periods. The total premium works out to, surprise!, 21600$.
  • Mussolini got the trains to run on time. That the mechanisms of tyranny are working is not a good thing.
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:00AM (#45566051) Homepage Journal

    ...now that the site works, does that mean that the law isn't flawed? Or are the people who made that argument just going to backtrack now?

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.