Obamacare's second open enrollment period begins in less than one week and officials report that there is scrambling behind the scenes to ensure HealthCare.gov will run smoothly despite the administration's assurances that all the problems from last year had been worked out, according to The Washington Post
Sources said contingency plans are being put in place in case the technology fails to stand up to the rigors of a second round of enrollment, even though elements of the computer system have been rebuilt and online applications have been reworked so that they are easier to navigate.
"Confidential documents written in recent weeks hint at elaborate backup planning that undercuts the administration's predictions than an improved HealthCare.gov will be able to handle everyone who wants to sign up," the Post said.
"More broadly, they reflect the high stakes confronting the administration as it tried to avoid last year's mistakes and deal with new threats to the Affordable Care Act: the Republican gains in the midterm elections and the Supreme Court's decision
to review the government insurance subsidies that are a linchpin of the law."
One document obtained by the newspaper shows that a technological solution has been developed in the event that the site it is overloaded with a flood of applicants, as was the case last year which lead to well publicized crashes.
Under the contingency plan, a system called "throttling" will push groups of people into online waiting rooms, avoiding the error messages and system shutdowns that many consumers got last year, according to the Post.
Another confidential document showed that insurers continue to test a new part of the system for small businesses which had not been ready last year, and testing will continue a month past the enrollment opening.
Other tests are being conducted to make sure the system is not vulnerable to hackers, having received criticism last year that the system did not have adequate privacy protections.
Administration officials have insisted it is secure, but behind the scenes, computer experts try once a day to hack the system to test whether it is vulnerable.
"Has enough been done to fix the problems we saw for open-enrollment one? ... We're all waiting with bated breath until November 15," Mara Youdelman, managing attorney of the National Health Law Program, told the Post.
Despite publicly expressing confidence that the system would be more robust this year, the administration has also been careful to limit expectations
in the event there are glitches this time around.
On Sunday, the site was open for people to shop for plans for 2015, allowing them to compare prices and coverage details before enrollment begins
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