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December 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM
The state’s health insurance exchange website, at wahealthplanfider.org, was restored to service this morning, two days ahead of its predicted return on Monday.
“The site is back up and early data shows solid operations of the website,” said Curt Kwak, chief information officer of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, the public-private company that manages the exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder. “We held back a little bit because we wanted to fully confirm all the test data that we gathered through the last few days.”
The site had been down since Tuesday as the exchange’s information technology staff worked to repair problems with the site..
The exchange has not yet disclosed the cause of the four-day outage.
December 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM
While Washington’s health exchange website – wahealthplanfinder.org – has fared far better than the federal government’s multi-state site, it has not fully resolved its own nagging performance issues.
The site was taken down for repair at about 2 p.m. Tuesday and remains down. The website is not expected to be available until Monday at the earliest.
“We are having issues,” acknowledged Curt Kwak, CIO of the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, the public-private company that manages the exchange. Kwak says his staff first noticed performance issues on the site about 2 1/2 weeks ago. “We tried to implement hot fixes before the Thanksgiving holiday and it seemed to have worked at the time,” said Kwak. “But when we got back from the holidays it started to act up again. We’ve been managing that ever since.”
The only thing Kwak is sure of is that the problem isn’t being caused by the site’s links to its partners, including the state eligibility system and the federal data hub. His team has been concentrating on the potential issues with the site’s databases, routers and Web servers. “It has been a very difficult thing because the problems are very random and intermittent,” said Kwak. “We still haven’t located the root cause.”
When asked if he could estimate when the site would be up again, Kwak replied, “Nothing is clear at this point.”
Update, 2 p.m. Friday: The website remains down for repair. At 1 p.m. Friday, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which manages the site, posted the following statement: “This week, Washington Healthplanfinder customers experienced intermittent slowness and even brief outages as they attempted to complete applications online. To address these issues as quickly as possible, we have brought the site down so that we may better troubleshoot and conduct necessary maintenance.”
The exchange has not given any estimate of when the site will be available to consumers.
December 4, 2013 at 8:10 PM
The Washington Healthplanfinder website came back online about 7 p.m. today after having been taken down earlier because of ”intermittent slowness and outages” on the site.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the Healthplanfinder site, did not have a statement about the specific cause of the problems.
More information about the cause of the shutdown is expected to be available Thursday.
November 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM
Like texting better than sitting at a computer?
King County has created a texting service to reach out and help consumers learn about their options in selecting a health insurance plan. Just text “King XXXXX” – substituting your Zip Code for the Xs – to 468311 and you’ll be connected. You’ll then receive a message informing you that you’ll get five messages a week from the health exchange informing you of enrollment events in your area and including links to directions and other information.
If nothing else, the service can be a helpful nag for those of us who tend to procrastinate.
(This blog entry has been corrected. I originally attributed the creation of the texting service to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. In fact, King County created the service and it applies only to King County.)
October 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM
By all accounts, despite its early bumpy start, the state exchange website — wahealthplanfinder.org — has been doing far better than the federally run site for states that are not managing their own exchanges. But there are still a few potentially confusing design glitches. The latest I’ve run into is that if you are searching for plans and neglect to specify the relationship of a household member you’ll still be allowed to move to the next page where you view plans. Unfortunately, the filters for sorting plans will not be active and there is no error message indicating why. It’s also not evident how to get back to the previous page. The back arrow in your browser doesn’t do the trick. It turns out the only way to get back is to click on one of the “edit” links in the upper-left corner.
October 14, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Remember washingtonhealthplanfinder.org, that insurance broker’s website that looked an awful lot like the state health insurance exchange, wahealthplanfinder.org? Washingtonhealthplanfinder.org not only looked similar to the state site, it had a prominent message on the homepage that said, “Welcome to the Exchange.”
The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner investigated the situation and reports now that Jeff Lindstrom, the broker behind the washingtonhealthplanfinder.org site has has been cooperative and has made changes requested by the OIC. The “Welcome to the Exchange” message is now gone, and the site prominently displays the message that the website is not the official state website.
October 2, 2013 at 12:41 PM
A press release issued just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday said that even with the technical problems the site had 170,487 page views and 6,199 calls to the call center on October 1. In addition, as of October 2, 6,385 user accounts had been created. The press release also indicated that some users would still experience slow performance and an inability to complete forms until further fixes are implemented. And WHBE advised consumers that the site would not be available from 10 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday due to maintenance operations.
While I was finally able to create a user account this afternoon, and while I found page loads to have speed from an average of over a minute to approximately 20 seconds, when I called customer service, I received a recorded message indicating that the site could not currently take applications, but that they were working on resolving the problems. A live customer service operator confirmed the problem and advised me to check back later in the week or even tonight.
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