If the numbers of folks who have signed up through the first three weeks of the website’s implementation are any indication, response has been underwhelming, to say the least.
As widely reported earlier this week, approximately 7,000 Vermonters have registered for the exchange, and just shy of 1,000 have signed up for policies. That’s a far cry from the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people expected to purchase coverage through the exchange by the end of the year.
Of course, the website isn’t working exactly as state planners had envisioned. Maybe that’s why the number of registered users on the site is less than 10% of the expected amount. There have been numerous and widely-reported problems with people trying to log on and create an account. Not to mention that the online payment component of the website won’t be available until November.
Of course problems were to be expected. That was acknowledged earlier this year when state officials decided to delay implementing the online payment part of the exchange.
In an interview on Vermont Public Radio earlier this week, Gov. Peter Shumlin said “My job as governor is to make the website work. We’re working 24/ 7 to make that happen. It’s better today than it was three weeks ago. We expect to make further progress going forward.”
Somehow the thought of Shumlin pulling all-nighters at the Statehouse in front of a computer screen rewriting code is a little unnerving. We would hope he has better things to do. Perhaps what he meant to say was that the state has people working on the problems.
But we get the governor’s point. Some programmer, or scores of programmers, will fix the exchange and make it work. He hopes.
They’d better do it quickly, because there will be a flood of people looking to use the exchange during the next two months, as insurance policies run out and Vermonters are forced to use the exchange.
If long waits, crashing pages, and inaccurate responses continue once tens of thousands try to register, the problems of earlier this month will seem like small blips on the screen.