The federal Obamacare insurance marketplace is being pummeled by a damning series of new disclosures, expert criticism, Republican demands that the Health and Human Services chief resign and presidential displeasure as the tech-troubled website stumbles into its third week of operation.
And even as officials repeatedly claim there is plenty of time to fix the problems at HealthCare.gov, speculation has risen that the Obama administration could fall well short of its goal of enrolling 7 million people in new insurance plans by 2014 because of a crippling set of technical potholes the venture has encountered.
President Barack Obama is "not happy" with the problems, his spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday. Carney also said the president wants "accountability" from the federal workers overseeing the rollout of his signature health-reform law.
Obama also said HealthCare.gov, which is offering insurance plans to residents of 36 states, has "way more glitches than I think are acceptable."
The federal and individual state health exchanges are a key part of Obamacare, offering what is supposed to be a menu of affordable insurance options to uninsured or underinsured people so that they can comply with a law that takes effect in 2014 requiring nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Even avid Obamacare supporters have been deeply critical of the rollout of HealthCare.gov because its serious technical issues imperil the administrations goal of signing up enough healthy people to balance out the costs of insuring sicker, older people who will use more benefits. Experts said right after the Oct. 1 launch date that the site had at best a month to correct its problems, or risk meeting its enrollment goals by March 31, the end of enrollment season.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published a front-page story that revealed that insurers not only are getting a tiny number of enrollments from HealthCare.gov, but that even those enrollments contain multiple problems, such as spouses being counted as children, missing data fields, and questions about whether people are actually eligible for insurance.
The Journal story also cited a problem of multiple enrollments for individual people—and also reported that several insurers had been told by federal officials that they should not talk to the media about the issues they are encountering. Insurers are having to manually correct the problems, the Journal said.