HealthCare.gov up again after data system crash, may be slow -agency

Reuters

By Caroline Humer and Sharon Begley

NEW YORK, Oct 28 (Reuters) - The website at the center ofthe U.S. healthcare reform law was back up Monday after a datacenter outage prevented Americans from enrolling in subsidizedhealth insurance, the latest technical problem to plague theonline insurance exchanges.

The outage, which started before dawn on Sunday, affectednot only the federal government's online exchange,HealthCare.gov, but also those run by 14 states and the Districtof Columbia, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said on Monday the websiteitself as well as a crucial piece of Obamacare - a data serviceshub that determines if people are eligible to buy healthinsurance on the exchange - were both back online as of 7 a.m.EDT (1100 GMT) after being restored late Sunday and testedovernight.

The outage was the latest problem in the troubled rollout ofthe online health insurance exchanges set up by President BarackObama's 2010 Affordable Care Act. Since the exchanges'problem-plagued Oct. 1 launch, information technology expertsfrom both the government and private contractors have beenscrambling to fix the technical issues that plague the system,with a "tech surge" of additional experts beginning about a weekago.

HealthCare.gov was working on changes to its online accountcreation when the outage occurred, Peters said in a statement.

Representatives of the Connecticut and New York exchangessaid earlier Monday they were able to access the federal datahub again.

Verizon Communication Inc, whose Terremark unitoperates the data center that failed on Sunday, did not respondto a request for comment.

In a conference call from Washington on Monday, HHSspokeswoman Julie Bataille said the tech surge team hadinstalled enhanced monitoring tools on HealthCare.gov, enablingit to see which parts of it are stumbling badly.

The team has reconfigured system components to make twoimprovements, she said: web pages that show which insuranceplans are available now take seconds rather than minutes (ormore) to load, and notices that tell people what subsidies theyare eligible for show up properly rather than being blank pages.

On Friday, the government said HealthCare.gov would beoperating smoothly by the end of November.

Sunday's outage severed connections with the federal dataservices hub, which links the online health insurancemarketplaces with numerous federal agencies and can verifypeople's identity, citizenship, income, and other information.

Without the hub, consumers are unable to apply online forcoverage or determine their eligibility for federal subsidies tohelp pay for insurance premiums. The hub was built by atechnology unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc.

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