CMS shares traffic reports for HealthCare.gov

Administration touts the spike is usage, but questions persist about data transmission to insurers.

Healthcare.gov start page

With the HealthCare.gov site rebooted after a month of repairs, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are being increasingly forthcoming with reporters about traffic to the site.

Details of the site's poor performance at its Oct. 1 launch were revealed by officials in often-contentious congressional hearings and in documents requested from contractors under the threat of subpoena. With the site now on firmer footing, CMS is more than happy to volunteer the substantial uptick in traffic, with numbers being offered in near-real time on daily press calls.

More than 950,000 users visited HealthCare.gov on Dec 3, according to CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille. Between midnight and 1 p.m. on Dec. 4, the site had 310,000 visits. These new usage levels represent an 80 percent increase from a week earlier. A new comparison-shopping feature that allows users to compare plans and benefits in detail before logging in or creating an account has drawn 790,000 users since the evening of Dec. 1, making it the third-most popular page on the site.

CMS is still being stingy with one piece of information -- the error rates occurring in transmissions of enrollment data to health insurance carriers. These "834 forms" are still the cause of major headaches at insurance companies, and there remains the challenge of sorting through errors that persist in records for any of the approximately 126,000 users who enrolled in plans via the Federally Facilitated Exchanges in October and November.

Bataille said that developers at contractor Quality Software Services Inc., which is leading the repair effort, believe that "the majority of issues causing inaccuracies previously have been resolved."

However, she declined multiple requests from reporters on a conference call to quantify the number of people affected by 834 errors, and whether errors continue to affect enrollees who came to the site since Nov. 30. Press reports indicate that almost 30,000 users were able to sign up for insurance on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 alone -- a massive increase over previous enrollment levels. However, the bigger numbers could lead to big problems on the insurance-carrier side if the 834 errors persist, as many in the insurance industry suggest.

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