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Experts Suggest Software Problems, Not Just Demand, May Be Behind Marketplace Glitches

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But others suggested that design flaws seem to be at least partly to blame for the headaches.

Difficulty setting up security questions and other problems encountered by users “are technical issues, not [just] volume,” Schuyler said. “What it comes down to is there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly test the systems.”

“This is not a glitch. A glitch is a minor problem,” said Robert Laszewski, a consultant and former insurance executive. “The real story is that the Obamacare computer systems simply are not working.”

Patsy Burkins, executive director of the Charlotte Community Services Association, which is helping to enroll consumers, said she’s been trying unsuccessfully for three days to get onto the federal exchange to look at prices in the Carolinas. Because she has failed to get on the site even as early as 5 a.m, she doesn’t believe the problem is due to traffic.

More than a dozen states constructed their own portals for the policies sold to individuals, families and small businesses. Many were reported to be working better than the federal site, partly because they allow shoppers to browse plans without going through the trouble of creating an account, which reduces the burden on the servers.

Besides being unable to enroll in plans, consumers in the 36 states dependent on the federal exchanges can’t get basic information about their insurance options.

In comparison, it takes less than 20 seconds to start shopping for a health plan on the Nevada, Colorado and Connecticut exchanges where you can get a list of plans and prices by entering your zip code, age and annual income.

Kevin Walsh, senior vice president of eligibility and insurance exchange services at Xerox, said about 75 percent of the people using the Nevada exchange so far are anonymously browsing. Xerox is the key private contractor that helped build the Nevada exchange. “It was part of our plan to make the site as user friendly and non-intimidating as possible,” he said.

The Nevada web site has had 77,000 unique visitors as of Wednesday night and nearly 19,000 user accounts were created.

Thu, Oct 03 2013

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