October 26, 2013

New health website boss says it'll be fixed by December

The management is reorganized after the exchange is plagued by delays and errors.

By Alex Wayne
Bloomberg News

(Continued from page 1)

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In this Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, Jeffrey Zients testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Obamacare’s hobbled health-insurance exchange will be fixed by December, according to Zients – the management consultant asked to salvage the website – in the first timeline provided for correcting the flaws. (Obamacare’s hobbled health-insurance exchange will be fixed by December, according to the management consultant asked to salvage the website, in the first timeline provided for correcting the flaw.

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

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Zients, 46, now a health-care entrepreneur, was named in September to replace Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council starting in January, after serving the government in the past as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. He agreed this week to take a detour to his new job by helping advise the HHS on how to fix its website.

On the back end, health insurers have complained that information they receive from the government about their new customers is inaccurate or garbled. Zients said that problem “is at the top of the punch list” of issues with the site “and it’ll get punched out as fast as can be done.”

Despite the problems, about 700,000 people had completed insurance applications since the beginning of the month, the government said yesterday. The figure includes health insurance exchanges in 14 states that are running their own websites and report fewer problems. About half of the applications have come from states using the federal site, Bataille said.

Customers in states served by the federal exchange can apply by phone, where 17 government-run call centers have wait times measured in seconds, according to the government. They can also apply on paper using in-person assistance at community organizations and health clinics.

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