Affordable Care Act

Insurance exchanges open

health data

Open enrollment began Oct. 1 for people seeking coverage under the 2010 health care law, as much of the federal government was in the process of shutting down. The system, which offers insurance plans in 36 states and links to state-run exchanges elsewhere, groaned under the weight of heavy traffic.

Error messages, crashes, long waits for service, and other glitches were observed on a widespread basis the morning of the launch, as early adopters of the law informally known as Obamacare rushed to apply for benefits.

Officials, including President Barack Obama, advised patience. "Now, like every new law, every new product roll-out, there are going to be some glitches in the sign-up process along the way that we will fix," Obama said in a Rose Garden event. Obama compared the launch bugs to a defect in an iPhone operating system rollout – the same comparison offered by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in remarks to reporters as the day before.

About a million visitors logged onto during the early hours of the launch, according to HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters. "We have built a dynamic system and expect to speed up the system in the coming hours," she said.

Some visitors were greeted with notifications of delay. "We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!" read one message.

The performance of the sites did appear to improve as the day wore on. The federal exchange and the states that build their own exchanges were able to register users.

Republican critics of the law, who are looking to defund or delay it as a condition of reopening the government, were not impressed.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, complained that, "Americans are attempting to purchase health insurance on Obamacare exchanges and are being met with crashing websites, missing price information, confusing forms and in some cases, exchanges that had to delay their start date because they aren't ready yet."

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), an opponent of the law who vowed to register for the health insurance exchanges on day one, posted a photo on Twitter of an error message he received. Bob Hanson, a spokesman for the Kansas Insurance Department told Reuters that officials in that state are asking people to wait before signing up. "There are going to be glitches. We're advising people to wait a week or two."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group