Working feverishly to meet its self-imposed deadline to get the Affordable Care Act’s website interface user-friendly (ie usable), the Obama administration once again extended the deadline. Realizing that having the federal Obamacare portal in ship-shape by November 30 was just not in the cards, the agency working on the website announced an 11 hour closure on Saturday, for extended maintenance. Now the update to announce an up-and-running portal is scheduled to take place on Sunday, instead of the previously announced Saturday.
After almost a month of frustration for users trying to access and/or use the ACA portal, which went on-line on October 1st, tech surge czar Jeff Zients pledged that the website, “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users” by November’s conclusion. Other Obama officials have reiterated this date several times since.
Zients announced that by the time all the latest bells and whistles will have been added the website’s capacity should double to about 50,000 users at a time. They are hoping for about 800,000 visitors to the site each day. These are the numbers which were hoped for when the site was first launched on October 1st.
The site is not expected to be perfect, however. Administration officials are warning users that there still could be long lines to get on the site, since during the first few days after the original launch as many as 250,000 tried to get on the site at once. If such numbers overwhelm the site again, people will be put on an online queue, receiving an email when Healthcare.gov can accept for visitors.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius cautioned people to expect long lines and no access at peak times. She asked people to shop for their healthcare plans during off-peak times, like early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends.
“The product is popular, so avoid the lines and shop HealthCare.gov during off-peak hours,” Sebelius wrote in a blog post.