- GOP may change presidential nominee process
- GOP, Democrats can't agree on Benghazi investigation
- Boehner to appoint select Benghazi committee
- Retired justice proposes changes to Constitution
- Obamacare under attack as conservatives eye 2016
- US Senator joins critics of federal cattle roundup
- $172 million in taxpayer dollars spent on penis pumps?
- Official: Obama to push for more overtime pay
- US warns Russia over rising Ukraine tension
- Governors: 'Obamacare' here to stay
- Venezuelan voices on the troubles in their country
- Ukraine's Tymoshenko speaks to protesters
- Gay marriage issue flares in Kentucky Senate race
- Ryan says he is keeping his options open for 2016
- Applications for jobless benefits rise to 339K
- White House: Stimulus bill was good for economy
- Democrats seek to turn stand on issues into votes
- AG urges restoring voting rights to ex-inmates
- Employers scrutinize latest health care concession
- A fresh start for Hillary Clinton and liberals?
- US easing immigration rule for terrorist support
- Biden: No obvious reason not to run in 2016
- Clinton warns new Iran sanctions could upend talks
- Obama: Job training must reflect changing economy
- Democratic push to raise minimum wage a longshot
- Obama plans executive action on jobs, retirement security
- Poll: People see Obama as nice guy, so-so prez
- Report: NSA maps pathway into computers
- House ready to OK government-wide $1.1T budget
- Majority of Congress members now millionaires
- Unemployment benefits bill clears hurdle
- Poll: Americans have little faith in government
- Light bulb ban set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014
- Obama presidency beset by fits, starts in year 5
- American abducted in Pakistan calls for US help
- NSA leaker: Mission is already accomplished
- Obama focuses on a tough year's ups, not its downs
- Mayor John Cranley: We are going to have a streetcar
- Clinton will decide on 2016 sometime next year
- Improving US economy leads Fed to ease stimulus
- White House task force urges limit on NSA snooping
- Judge: NSA program is likely unconstitutional
- Obama to meet with tech CEOs amid NSA concerns
- Wastebook report singles out $30B in federal spending
- Debate on plane phone calls moves on, gets bigger
- Budget deal to cut deficit over 10 years
- Legal weed sales will be spotty in Colorado
- A look at the congressional budget agreement
- Senate holds talkathon over Obama nominees
- How Volcker Rule would limit banks risky bets
- Budget deal aims to avert another shutdown
- Boehner to Run for Re-Election
- State Senator Eric Kearney Resigns from Democratic Ticket
- President and First Lady Depart for South Africa
- Tech giants call for controls on gov't snooping
- Obama's fixer-upper website races to catch up
- Mayor-Elect Nominates Permanent City Manager
- Governor Kasich Leads Challenger FitzGerald in Poll
- Council Member Waives Right to Recount, Saves Taxpayers Thousands
- Cranley Announces Choice for Vice-Mayor
- FitzGerald & Kearney Make Official Ohio Governor's Race Announcement
- 'Stand Your Ground' Proposal Clears Ohio House
- Father of Congressman on Leave Speaks Out About Family Issues
- Florida Congressman Pleads Guilty After Cocaine Arrest
- Ohio House Considers "Stand Your Ground" Gun Bill
- President's Approval Rate Lowest of his Presidency
- Congressman and Cincinnati Native Busted on Drug Charges
- Results Mixed for School Districts
- Property Tax Cut or Sales Tax Hike in Hamilton County
- Quinlivan Talks About Council Defeat
- Immigration Reform: House Will Not Talk on Senate-Passed Bill
- Cranley Confirms: City Manager Dohoney to Resign by December 1st
- Cranley: I Have Not Asked City Manager to Resign
- Ohio Legislator Proposes Pay Increase for Thanksgiving Workers
- McConnell promotes alternative to 'Obamacare'
- Obama: 'I'm sorry' Americans are losing insurance
- Critics: Some Unions Could Get Break From Fees
- Mapping Cranley's Victory
- Election Winners and Losers in the 2013 Campaign
- Mayor-Elect Outlines Vision for City
- High court wrestles with prayer in government
- Mapping the Votes in the Cincinnati Mayor's Race
- Maine Woman Beats Husband in Election
- Cincinnati School Board Race
- Issue 4: Cincinnati Pension Reform
- Issue 1: Hamilton County Library Levy Passes
- Issue 2: Hamilton County Zoo Levy Passes
- Cincinnati Reacts to Mayoral Race
- Race Results for Cincinnati City Council
- Qualls Loses to Cranley to Become Cincinnati's 69th Mayor
- John Cranley Speaks After Being Elected Mayor of Cincinnati
- Warren County Campaign on Candidates and Deciding Issues
- Voters Decide Oak Hills School Levy
- Qualls and Cranley Make Last Minute Campaign Push
- Federal Appeals Court Will Hear Arguments on Liquor Ban
- #YourVoice2013 Complete Election Coverage
- Most Watched Polls Across America
- Lakota Tries to Pass Levy After Three Defeats
- Qualls and Cranley Face off in Mayoral Race
- Voters Decide Zoo and Library Renewal Projects
- Light Voter Turnout this Election Day
- Cincinnati's Mayoral Candidates Vote
- Couple Seeking Same-Sex Divorce in Kentucky
- Retirements Increase Due to Issue 4
- Low Turnout Expected on Election Day
- Obamacare: Memo reveals health care adviser warned W.H. was losing control 3 years ago
- Birth Control Mandate Against Some Religions
- Dirty Politics in Trustees Race Surprising Candidates
- Report: Obama campaign considered replacing Biden with Hillary Clinton
- Sorting Through the Clutter of Tri-State Health Premiums
- President Obama Defends Health Care Law
- Congress Gets Apology for Troubles with Healthcare Website
- Senator Easing Fears Another Shut Down Won't Happen
- Hollywood Attraction to Senate Race
- Database Cleared of Duplicate Voter Registrations
- Government Hires Local Law Firms for Workers
- Waste Watch: Proposed 30% Raises for Elected Officials Raises Questions
- NSA Causes International Outrage
- Issue 4 Pension Reform
- Report: White House stopped phone tapping of foreign leaders this summer
- Ohio Senate Considers Pet Protection Orders
- Should Lawmakers be Drug Tested?
- Advocates hopeful about restoring voting rights to Ky. felons
- City Council and Mayoral Candidates Go At It
- National Security Official Fired over Twitter Account
- Merkel calls Obama to complain about surveillance
- Gay Marriage Activist Dies
- Republican Approval Rates Take a Hit after Shutdown
- Obama addresses widespread health care problems
- Newsmakers, Sunday, October 20th
- Obama to talk about health care signup problems
- AP sources: 476,000 Obamacare applications filed
- Local Man's Political Aspirations Draw Threats
- Results of nearly week-long poll question on government
- Powerful conservative group endorses Matt Bevin
- Ohio governor 'optimistic' on Medicaid expansion
- Ex-House speaker Tom Foley dies at 84
- House Worker Escorted Out After Yelling During Vote
- Federal Workers Back in Business
- President Urges Cooperation as Federal Workers Return to Jobs
- White House: Furloughed Workers Can Return to Work
- Government Shutdown Over
- Obamacare Sign Up Under Way
- Deal reached to avoid default and open government
- Senator: Deal to avoid default and open government
- Furloughed Workers Can Send Creditors a Note from Government
- GOP senator says deal in hand to avoid default
- House Postpones Vote on Bill to Reopen Government
- First Streetcar Tracks Laid- Politics or Construction?
- House GOP floats counter to Senate debt plan
- House GOP Work on Separate Funding Bill
- Senators Closing in on Deal to Reopen Government
- Optimism on Ending Gov. Shutdown?
- No Deal in Government Shutdown
- 20 Sponsors Dropping Boy Scouts
- House GOP, White House Seeking End to Budget Fight
- Boehner's District Feels Pain of Shutdown
- Debt Limit Debate
- Obama Likely to Sign Debt Extension
- President and GOP to Meet over Government Shutdown
- Experts Say History is a Guide to Government Shutdown
- 2013 Cincinnati Mayoral Debate
- Hints of a Truce in Government Shutdown
- Doctor is Audited After Comments on Health Care
- Cincinnati Mayoral Race Preview
Obama's fixer-upper website races to catch up
Updated: Friday, December 6 2013, 08:38 AM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It looks like President Barack Obama's fickle health insurance website is finally starting to put up some respectable sign-up numbers, but its job only seems to have gotten harder.
Two months in and out of the repair shop have left significantly less time to fulfill the White House goal of enrolling 7 million people by the end of open enrollment on March 31.
Signups were just over 100,000 nationally as of the end of October. The 36 states served by the federal government's website accounted for a paltry one-fourth of that, fewer than 27,000 people. But officials now say an additional 29,000 people enrolled through the revamped HealthCare.gov in just two days at the start of this week, despite heavy volume that not long ago would have caused the system to lock up.
HealthCare.gov is the online portal to subsidized private health insurance for people who don't have job-based coverage. Though it's too early to say whether the corner is being turned, Obama is inviting consumers to give the website a second chance. Here's a look at the changes you can expect:
SPEED AND AVAILABILITY
Independent testers question the blazing Internet speeds claimed by techies at the Health and Human Services Department but say there's been noticeable progress.
"The trend is in the right direction ... but there are still things they can do to make the user experience better," said Michael Smith, a vice president of engineering at Compuware Corp., which helps companies monitor the technical performance of their websites.
As of Thursday morning, the number of states where consumers are experiencing unacceptably long wait times had been cut in half, down to 13 from 26 states in late October.
Compuware defines "unacceptable" as more than 8 seconds average response time to load the home page. The government claims a response time of less than 1 second. But Smith says that is likely being measured from computers with fast Internet connections and doesn't account for the experience of consumers with less than ideal access, which is incorporated in his company's testing.
HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters acknowledged: "As with any website, the response times for individual consumers will vary depending on their computer's performance and the speed of their Internet."
Compuware says availability - a measure of consumers' success accessing the site - is up to 98 percent, close to the standard for commercial websites.
Many consumers were puzzled and frustrated when the federal website went live because it would not let them browse health plans without first setting up an account. That's the opposite of how e-commerce generally works. Most websites ask consumers to open an account after they're ready to purchase.
The flaw drove many people to an accounts creation page that turned out to be riddled with bugs and contributed to the system's early woes.
On Monday, HHS announced the deployment of a window-shopping function that lets prospective customers see plans and prices in their area, including previously unavailable details such as deductibles and cost-sharing, as well as provider networks.
People who got stuck in the system can now zap away their old applications and start over.
To do that, you log into your account, select the application in progress and hit "remove."
You have to follow that by closing and reopening your web browser. Then you log back in and start a new application.
The reset process may not be entirely foolproof because HHS advises consumers to reach out to the call center at 1-800-318-2596 if they have trouble.
To help stave off problems during periods of high user volume, the website now has a queuing system. Consumers can request email notifications of when is a good time to come back. The feature kicked in this week as people flooded back to check out the revamped website.
The site can now handle 50,000 simultaneous users. Each visitor spends an average of 20 to 30 minutes on the site. In theory, the site will support more than 800,000 consumer visits a day.
The big spikes in traffic are still to come. Expect that to happen after the middle of this month, since Dec. 23 is the last day that people can apply for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1. Even heavier volume is likely toward the end of open enrollment March 31, as procrastinators jump in.
Confident that the site is stable, the government is emailing people who got stuck in the system and inviting them back.
Still, reaching the goal of 7 million sign-ups seems like a tall order. The government's initial projections estimated that 1.2 million people would have enrolled by the end of November, and the number is likely to be only a fraction of that.
And the March 31 deadline doesn't mean that enrollment comes to a full stop.
That's because under the law, people who experience a significant change in their life circumstances can still get coverage after the open enrollment period is over. Such changes include divorce, the birth of a child, loss of coverage, moving to another state or losing a job.
Rick Curtis of the nonprofit Institute for Health Policy Solutions estimates that as many as 20 million people could become eligible for coverage later in 2014, though it's not clear how many of those would enroll.
"About as many people will become eligible over the course of the year as are eligible now," Curtis said.