Let the zombie apocalypse begin: October 1, 2014, and the creature is stirring to life! I was able to go to Healthcare-dot-gov, and even though the site is not technically at full function until 8 AM EDT and has been getting hammered since midnight, I was able to create screen names and passwords. I was even able to sign in briefly and begin the enrollment process on one state’s exchange. I set up several emails to check various domains, AOL, Yahoo, and Gmail. Sadly, no zombie government agents showed up at my front door, I have yet to receive a summons to serve on a liberal death panel and decide the fate of comatose grandma. No doubt it’s lost in the mail, that stupid gubmit can’t do anything right! But here’s some prelim info and results below.
Registering is standard: you go to the main Healthcare-dot-gov site, you’ll set up a screen name and password, and answer three security questions. You’ll need to use letters and numbers for both s/n and pw. The site will send a confirmation with a link to that email address, you have to click to verify it’s legit. When you click the link it will then take you back to the main site. The sub-sites are clearly marked, the main page is not too busy with headers and links and such, but has all the headers and start buttons you’ll need. Live help is available 24/7 and is up and running right now in fact.
Mere minutes after midnight, all three domains crisply delivered the account verification link which took me back to the main page. I then checked pw reset and screen name prompt functions for all three, both worked fine for a Yahoo and Gmail, but reset and reminder emails for AOL have yet to appear and it’s been several hours now (And no, it’s not in spam.) One way that usually works for a mature site is reports of spamming from a specific domain reach a critical thresh-hold, at which point some ISP’s begin blocking that domain at the network email server level. That hasn’t had time to happen with AOL and the healthcare.gov domain yet, so presumably there are some issues there. Hardly anyone uses AOL anymore, but based on this, if you set up a Hcare account, I suggest using Yahoo or Gmail. Then again since you can’t fully sign in until 8 AM anyway, that might not be accurate.
I have several super-secret high-level developer contacts at HHS and spoke with one as recently as yesterday, asking them if enrollments generated at Healthcare-dot-gov can be tracked. They said short answer, yes, but there are three interlocking parts, 1) main site for people in state’s that don’t have an HIX reports in real time, 2) Medicaid expansion enrollments report in real time for some states and not for others, and 3) State HIX’s report over several days or weeks. So short answer, it will take several weeks to get all that data.
They didn’t specify if that’s because the feature hasn’t been rolled out yet on ever state HIX or if it just takes that long for some cogs and tumblers to line up afterward, or if it requires human intervention. My guess is it’s a hodge-podge due to the fact that state’s did this semi-independently.
Back to HealthCareDotGov, the prompt and directed features are excellent, among the best I’ve ever seen at any site, head and shoulders above many job application sites for example. The main page you’ll see first looks like this:
But the green button now says “Apply Now” and takes you to this page where you just pick your state. The buttons/links in easy to read big print like that forwards you through info pages and other branch points eventually dumping you into the applicable state HIX or fed default. The Get Important News & Updates is now replaced with a “Want To Learn More First? Start Here” button that takes you to a series of questions about you and your family to help guide you to the most useful page.
From there you’ll get search functions, policy listings and FAQs galore, and eventually an enrollment form. Some of those referred pages are taking a few seconds to load in some cases, but compared to many roll-outs I’ve seen and considering the load it must be under, Healthcare-dot-gov is going damn fast. Expect intermittent crashes later today as the nation wakes up, DOS trolls hit the site with everything they have and millions more put it through its paces as designed.
Lastly, there is a live chat option on the main site and I’m currently in queue there waiting to see how long service takes — now talking to a CSR named Marco via live chat. Time in queue was about 15 mins before he picked up.
That’s about it for now. I’ll have more a little after 8 AM Eastern.