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Invisible Health Plans: Taking for a Test Run, Part II

Performance issues continue to dog the federal government’s updated health care marketplace. Live chat helper: “Yes, others are experiencing the same problem.”


Yesterday, I reported on the troubles I had accessing the new-and-improved The Obama administration said more than one million people accessed the site on Monday and that it was stable for users.

1 million visits to yesterday. Site stable, faster for users.

— (@HealthCareGov) December 3, 2013

The president likewise touted the site's performance yesterday, part of a push to promote the law.

So I decided to try the site again this afternoon. This time, I didn't see the "Please Wait" flags that bogged me down yesterday, but I had a more fundamental problem. When I got to the step of comparing health plans, I couldn't see any.


Once again, I tried a live chat with a representative on the site. A sample:

[4:06:55 pm]: Teniqua

Welcome to the Health Insurance Marketplace web chat, my name is TeNiqua, how may I help you?

[4:07:21 pm]: Charlie

Hi there. I'm on the site and have successfully entered my information and have an account. I am now trying to view my plan options and the screen i[s] blank.

[4:07:36 pm]: Charlie

I've tried resetting my cookies and using a different browser, but still can't see anything.

[4:07:36 pm]: Teniqua

I apologize for the inconvenience.

[4:07:43 pm]: Charlie

I thought this may be a problem yesterday, but I'm having the same problem today.

[4:08:24 pm]: Teniqua

We know this must be frustrating for you and we appreciate your patience. We have our technical experts working to fix this issue and improve the application and enrollment process for everyone. We expect this problem to be resolved soon, so please call us back in early December and we will continue. And don't worry; if you want your insurance coverage to begin on January 1, 2014, we've extended the enrollment deadline to December 23, 2013, so you'll have plenty of time.

[4:08:42 pm]: Charlie

It is early December.

[4:09:15 pm]: Charlie

Are others experiencing this same problem? The president today said that is working for the vast majority of users, but I can't even see plan options.

[4:09:57 pm]: Teniqua

Yes, others are experiencing the same problem.

[4:12:17 pm]: Teniqua

Do you have any other questions that I can help you with?

[4:14:40 pm]: Charlie


[4:14:46 pm]: Teniqua

Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Communications consultant Tony Jewell, former director of media relations and deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration, writes on his blog that he's still having problems, too.

Are we alone? What is your experience?

This post originally appeared on ProPublica, a Pacific Standard partner site.