Obamacare website working better, but capacity is limited - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Obamacare website working better, but capacity is limited


MADISON (WKOW) -- The pressure is on the Obama administration to fulfill its promise to have healthcare.gov working much better by the end of the month.

Those who use the website often say it already is, but IT professionals say it may never reach peak efficiency.

Access Community Health Centers has had a one-stop shop for assistance with the Affordable Care Act since it launched on October 1st, but Monday was the first time their Obamacare specialists told 27 News the website is working much better.

"We've definitely had a lot more success within these last few weeks with the website compared to last month, so we've actually been able to successfully enroll a lot more people," said Elissa Sprecher of Access.

Sprecher says site crashes are now very rare and while there are still some delays, key parts of the process are much smoother.

"Our biggest issue before was eligibility determination, so, that has greatly improved in letting people know what their eligibility is and actually switching them over to that enrollment piece where they can actually see the plans," said Sprecher.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the website can now handle a capacity of 25,000 users at one time and plans to increase it to 50,000 by next week.

"Some of that capacity planning probably should have been done beforehand, but, we're at where we're at and growing from 25,000 to 50,000 is a big undertaking," said Bryan Whitkowski, an Informational Technology instructor at Madison College.

But Witkowski says healthcare.gov will never be able to handle the volume of users popular sites like Google or Facebook can.

"Its a combination of maybe I don't have the money or the resources to put into the hardware and I don't have the money and resources to get the best developers to build the complex software that's required," said Witkowski.

Witkowski says sites like Facebook couldn't have handled millions of users upon its launch either, but had the luxury of building up their capacity over time.  He believes its likely wait times may get shorter on healthcare.gov, but will always be there.

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