The Bad News: 2nd outage at HC.gov. The Good News: Exchange QHPs may break 7M by midnight anyway.

From the Wall Street Journal around 1:14pm:

"A second software glitch took HealthCare.gov offline on Monday as the site struggled to stay open during this year's final day of enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.

The new problem hit around 12 p.m. EDT and was preventing users from creating new accounts, said a person familiar with the matter. The glitch is related to the part of the system that processes peoples' identities, the person said. A user who visits the site now and tries to log in is told "Healthcare.gov has a lot of visitors right now" and is put into a queue."

..."The latest glitch comes as the site had been performing well, if not perfectly, during a time of heavy use. On Sunday, HealthCare.gov processed more than 160,000 enrollments—the highest daily number to date, the person said."

So, why do I still think they're not only going to hit the low end of my final range (6.9 million) but may actually still beat the high end of the range (7 million even)?

Simple math, really:

  • Exchange QHPs had hit at least 6 million by midnight on Wednesday.
  • To reach 7 million by midnight on Monday, there have to be at least 1 million in 5 days, or an average of 200,000 per day.
  • California has been hitting 20,000/day regularly for the past week or so, and has made up around 18-20% of the national total pretty consistently. That suggests a minimum of 100K/day for the past week or so.
  • If Healthcare.gov enrolled "more than 160,000" people yesterday (Sunday) alone, that suggests that Thursday, Friday and Saturday were somewhere between 100K and 150K per day. Let's call it 130K/day.
  • That means that HC.gov has enrolled a minimum (?) of around 550,000 people in the past 4 days.
  • However, Healthcare.gov likely only represents around 73-78% of the grand total; the other 14 states + DC (including California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut) should be making up around 20 - 25%. Let's assume HC.gov is around 75% of the total over the past week:
  • 550K / X = 75 / 100
  • 55M / X = 75
  • 55M = 75*X
  • X = around 733,000 people 

That brings things to 6.73 million, not including today.

Except that, as I've noted before, it's not like the total hit precisely 6,000,000 at 11:59pm on Wednesday. I assume it was at a minimum of, say, 6.07 million (an extra 70K), which brings the total up to at least 6.8M even as of midnight last night.

Now, the HC.gov site was offline for about 6 hours this morning, and for the past hour and a half or so this afternoon (perhaps it's back online already?), which is gonna hurt; no denying that (note: these people will still presumably be enrolled, they'll just have to do so during the extension period).

However, assuming they can get things back up and running for the rest of the day, they're still likely to cram in perhaps a 100K today on the Federal site. Meanwhile, I haven't heard about any of the state-run exchanges crashing in the past few days or so far today, so they should be operating at full capacity, which should mean another 40K or so. That brings us above 6.9 million, to around 6.94M total.

On a personal note, in spite of some unknowns above (is HC.gov 75% of the total? Did HC.gov really hit 130K/day on Th/Fr/Sat?), I'm actually far more comfortable with this update than either the one last night or even this morning, which didn't have any real numbers from the past few days to go on, beyond a few states.

Anyway, if they're able to get HC.gov back online quickly and have no further outages, and the final-day crush continues, and the state exchanges all continue to work properly (or at least as well as they have been to date, in the cases of OR, MA, MD, NV and HI, anyway), then I still see no reason why exchange QHPs don't have a good chance of crossing the 7M mark tonight anyway.

Now, maybe I'm wrong about how much the federal exchange is making up of the total; it could be 80%, meaning the state numbers would be lower proportionately. Maybe they won't hit even 6.9M, but I'm pretty sure it'll be close.

Unless there's one more last-minute major development, I'm standing by my 6.9 - 7.0M exchange QHP range projection.

UPDATE: Looks like HC.gov is back online as of around 1:30pm...so it was off for perhaps 1.5 hours early this afternoon:

HHS says the issues with health care dot gov have been resolved now

— Sam Baker (@sam_baker) March 31, 2014