THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted Wednesday that the
troubled launch of the federal government's new health insurance
exchange hasn't gone as planned.
However, she said technicians were working to fix the glitches
that have plagued the HealthCare.gov website, and improvements
should be evident shortly to consumers, the
Cincinnati Enquirerreported Wednesday.
"I'll be the first to tell you, the website launch was rockier
than we would have liked," Sebelius, a Cincinnati native, said
during a visit to a community college in her hometown.
"There have been vast improvements, but we are still not
satisfied. We want this to be as seamless as possible," she
The federal exchange, which serves 36 states, and related ones
run by the other states are key components of the Affordable Care
Act, the Obama administration's broad yet controversial
health-reform package designed to bring insurance to tens of
millions of Americans who lack coverage.
Federal officials initially blamed the problems with
HealthCare.gov on high visitor traffic to the website. They later
acknowledged design and software problems that have made it
difficult for curious consumers to navigate the site.
U.S. health officials have said they see the heavy traffic on
HealthCare.gov as an indication of the demand for health insurance.
The Obama administration hopes to enroll 7 million uninsured people
through the federal and state health exchanges by the end of March
Several Republican lawmakers have been critical of Sebelius'
department's handling of the launch and have called for her to step
The New York Timesreported Wednesday. One legislator, Kansas
Sen. Pat Roberts, a longtime friend of the Sebelius family, said
she should take responsibility for the problems. He accused
Sebelius of "gross incompetence," adding, "We need new
Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, called for Sebelius to resign or
be fired, the
Timesreported. "Taxpayers should not have to tolerate this
kind of waste and incompetence," he said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Sebelius had "the
full confidence of the president," according to the
A poll released last week of consumer satisfaction with the
Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges confirmed what
headlines have been saying since the online marketplaces' launch on
Oct. 1: things have not gone smoothly.
Forty percent of Americans said the introduction of the
insurance exchanges hadn't gone well, 20 percent said it had gone
somewhat well and 30 percent had no opinion. Just 7 percent said
the launch had gone "very well" or "somewhat well," the AP-GfK poll
Seven percent of those polled said someone in their household
had tried to sign up for insurance through the exchanges --
potentially 20 million people. But three-quarters of those who
tried to sign up reported problems, the
Unlike the highly publicized problems dogging the federal health
exchange website, many state-run exchanges have been operating
relatively well, according to published reports.
The reason for the disparity: the sprawling federal website has
been overwhelmed by visitors and -- some experts contend --
hampered by faulty design and software. The state-run sites, by
comparison, are much smaller and nimbler, and technicians can react
quickly to fix problems that arise, the
"Individual state operations are more adaptable," Alan Weil,
executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy,
an independent nonpartisan group, told the newspaper. "That does
not mean that states get everything right. But they can respond
more quickly to solve problems as they arise."
Here's how to find
the health exchange serving your state.