HealthCare.Gov having tech issues on last day of Open Enrollment; call 1-800-318-2596 if you can't #GetCovered

Dammit, I took a couple of hours off to rewatch The Force Awakens with my kid (in anticipation of The Rise of Skywalker coming out this week), and look what happens...

HealthCare.Gov is not letting people login to enroll. This is the second outage, the first lasted 15 minutes. We're 8 minutes into the second. Last time this happened, 100k people could not enroll. @CMSGov must extend the deadline.

— Joshua Peck (@JoshuaFAPeck) December 15, 2019

When I loaded the site, I got the same error screen...but when I refreshed, the login screen came back up again.

This error is neither a "system down" or "waiting room" message -- leaving people trying to login bewildered that this is even a login page. When you call the listed number, the message states "due to high call volume" leave your name and number.

— Joshua Peck (@JoshuaFAPeck) December 15, 2019

The HealthCare.Gov website problem is ongoing (2 hours now). Sometimes the login page loads, sometimes it doesn't. For context, right now a baseball stadium of people SHOULD be enrolling every hour. These kind of technical issues could not be happening at a worse time.

— Joshua Peck (@JoshuaFAPeck) December 15, 2019

I don't know if Seema Verma or CMS will allow for an extra day for people to enroll, but they damn well should do so.

As Peck notes, for context, the highest single-day reported #ACA enrollment record was on the last day of the 2017 Open Enrollment Period (on 12/15/16), when 670,000 people selected policies via HealthCareGov in a single 24-hour period. Assuming, say, 80% of those happened between 8am - midnight, that's 33,000 per hour or 560 per minute.

Anyone who has problems enrolling today should call 1-800-318-2596 and leave their contact info to be called back so they're able to get covered for 2020.

I should also note that people unable to use HealthCare.Gov to enroll today can try using HealthSherpa.com instead.* They just confirmed that they're also having some issues but it's also spotty, so if HC.gov isn't working, you might consider using them as alternative.

Remember, Health Sherpa only sells ACA-compliant policies, only sells on-exchange ACA policies, and offers all of them, so it's about as close to HC.gov as you can get without it being the actual HC.gov.

I should also note that HealthCare.Gov's issues should not have any impact on the 13 state-based exchanges, including:

*Disclosure: Yes, Health Sherpa has a banner ad on my site, but I don't get paid any more for giving them a shout-out or anything like that; it's a flat amount for the enrollment period.

UPDATE: via Amy Lotvan of Inside Health Policy:

No sign of an extension but CMS says anyone who provides info via the site or a call center by 3 am EST can still get Jan 1 coverage..@charles_gaba https://t.co/HGMDvxhlWQ

— Amy Lotven (@amylotven) December 16, 2019

Here's why Seema Verma/CMS should absolutely bump the official deadline out by a day under the circumstances: There's 2 reasons why there's a limited time window in the first place:

  • 1. To spur people into actually enrolling
  • 2. To prevent people from gaming the system by waiting until they're sick/injured to sign up.

Today's HCgov tech issues aren't related to either of these. Everyone trying to enroll was, indeed, spurred into doing so...and none of them are trying to "game the system"...they're trying to play by the rules laid out by CMS. SHOULD people wait until the last minute? Of course not, but that's human nature.

UPDATE 12:20am (EST): HealthCare.Gov was still having intermittent issues as recently as an hour ago, though it seems to be loading properly as of right now.

Remember, you still have until 3:00am EST to enroll in the 38 states hosted by HealthCare.Gov. I presume the state-based exchanges with 12/15 final deadlines (CT, MD, NV, VT & WA) are all using midnight in their local time zone as their deadlines.