The eight or so hours that Obamacare's open enrollment has existed so far this year, something stands out to me: Healthcare.gov seems to be working.
When you try searching Twitter for "healthcare.gov not working" you find exactly four hits (or, five hits now, after I tweeted about it). Two are more than a day old, the two others come from the same account in Florida. In other words: there is one person using the words "Healthcare.gov" and "not working" this morning on Twitter.
It's hard to overstate how different this is from last year's launch. Around 10 a.m. on the first day of last year's open enrollment, pretty much everyone who was trying to use healthcare.gov would tell you it was not working. I had no trouble finding a shopper in West Virginia who would become the subject of my first story that day, titled "Signing up for Obamacare: 'This was totally disappointing.'" My inbox was overloaded with people who were angry and frustrated that the website kept stalling out on them.
The hard thing to do as a reporter last year was find someone who had actually managed to buy insurance on the website. That was pretty much impossible because, as internal documents would later show, exactly six people managed to sign up on October 1. This year, there are already some initial tweets from shoppers saying they've signed up.
Just used http://t.co/qW3gHIeYQ6 and it was surprisingly easy and painless. It looks like they got it right this time around.— mark gray (@mkgray0013) November 15, 2014
@sarahkliff I was able to help a family member re-enroll and switch plans this morning. We were done in 30 minutes!— Emily Brostek (@EmilyBrostek) November 15, 2014
There will near certainly be some glitches this year and the website will not work perfectly. Michelle Noteboom, who works in health IT, found some poking around this morning:
@healthcare.gov still very buggy. 30 mins on hold to 800# cause acct locked; links to some plans not working; narrow results displays wrong— Michelle R. Noteboom (@michnoteboom) November 15, 2014
And when I asked for reports of successes and glitches, I did here this from one woman in Alexandria:
@sarahkliff at my office we haven't been able to verify a single person's identity— And Keezus Wept (@iTakeHappyPills) November 15, 2014
This is annoying and frustrating and a problem. But it's also not a completely broken website, either. This year, people do seem to be able to sign up for health plans — something they were unable to do on last year's launch day.